Woman falls head-first onto a knife... and survives

Woman falls head-first onto a knife... and survives »Play Video

A STRONG WARNING: Some of the images in the video clip and photo gallery are VERY GRAPHIC in nature.  The images include photos of the scene in Mary Townsen's driveway as paramedics responded to help her and photos from the emergency room as doctors treated her.


BATTLE GROUND, Wash. - A bizarre accident left a woman with a knife lodged deep in her head and what is so amazing is that she actually survived.

"I'm not afraid to die," said 72-year-old Mary Townsen when asked about the freak accident that happened over two years ago.  "I guess that's it."

Townsen was pulling weeds at her home in Battle Ground when she set a knife down with the blade pointing up and then tripped when she went to turn around, landing right on the knife.

A neighbor girl was shooting baskets across the street when the accident happened and immediately ran inside to get her mom, Kelly Eldred.

"When I get to the edge of my driveway, I can see Mary in this driveway and she's kind of like walking funny and screaming, kind of quiet," she said.  "It was eerie, like a monster movie almost."

Townsen said she remembers wondering whether she should take the knife out or not. 

"She kept saying 'call my daughter, my daughter's a nurse, she can come over and just pull it out.'" said Eldred. "I'm like 'Mary, we're not going to do that.'"

Instead, Eldred called for help. 

When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics could not believe what they were seeing and police wanted to know if a violent attacker was on the loose.

Meanwhile, there was Townsen with a knife lodged in her brain, through her left eye socket.  Amazingly, she said it didn't hurt.

"It didn't," she said.  "No pain at all."

Her husband, Chuck, wasn't home when all of this happened.  During her ambulance ride, she tried to get the paramedics to take a detour so she could tell him what happened.  They didn't listen to her and instead took her directly to the hospital.

"This was really a bizarre one," said Dr. Kent Grewe, a Neurosurgeon at Legacy Emanuel Hospital who happened to be on call that day.

Dr. Grewe had not seen Townsen since she left the hospital with an unknown prognosis, which was nearly 2 1/2 years ago.  The two met again for this story and Townsen told the doctor "thank you for saving my life."

After all this time, Townsen still wanted to know how and why she survived.  The answer is in her CAT scan, which shows the knife just missed her brain stem and also just missed the main artery to her brain.

So how did Dr. Grewe get the knife safely out of Townsen's head?  As it turned out, it wasn't that hard at all.

"We took it out and nothing happened," he said.  "It's like, remember the Sword in the Stone?"

There was barely any bleeding and her eyeball was somehow untouched.

However, Townsen did have problems.  She could not read, write, add or subtract and she had to use a walker.

Eventually, a year passed and that is when Townsen's husband announced it was time for her to learn to drive again.  He taught her and then passed away two weeks later after a long battle with cancer.

Townsen's abilities have been slowly coming back since the accident and every week she says she gets a little bit better.

"I think God kept me on this earth to tell other people not to be afraid to die," she said.  "Unless you're real, real bad," she added jokingly.