Mario Lafond rubs the tensor bandage on what used to be his foot. His eyes squint in pain as he rubs the already worn bandage. The pain isn’t just physical, it is also mental as he thinks about the future for his young family.
On Oct. 9, LaFond arrived at his job at SofSurfaces in Petrolia for his 7 am shift. He had a coffee and headed out to the floor to work at one of the presses with a coworker.
As they worked on the lids being made at the plant, the other worker needed a new grinder. He left the press and the machine stopped. Lafond says he didn’t think it was supposed to move and then he heard the sound of hydraulics starting.
“I feel a little pull on my pants and the press is coming down,” he says as he struggles to control his emotion recounting his story while sitting in the hospital bed jammed up against the stairway in his home. “And I can’t get my foot out…I could feel it,” he cried.
Lafond says his coworkers did all they could but they couldn’t act fast enough. “By the time he could get the machinery stopped, the press was down…
“As soon as I heard the crunch I realized something was wrong…I looked at (my coworker)…I seen his face almost go white.”
Lafond says it seemed to take forever to free his foot. “To me it felt like 10 minutes but it could have been four or six minutes.”
By the time the press was opened the foot was crushed. The Ministry of Labour is investigating and has issued several orders to SofSurface on issues including guarding of machinery and surrounding the training of workers to the temp agency which has been Lafond’s employer for the past year and a half.
Lafond was rushed to hospital in London after the accident. Doctors knew almost immediately the foot could not be saved. But they kept it on for 72 hours to try to improve the circulation in the lower half of his leg, which they first feared would also be lost.
Now Lafond is left with the scarred heel of his right foot. Doctors tell him will help as he learns to walk with a prosthetic.
Lafond says he’s in “constant pain…I haven’t gone a day without severe pain.” His wife, Krystal, is up every three hours giving Lafond the pain medication he needs.
She’s also scheduling doctors appointments and dealing with the Workplace Safety Insurance Board which has already been asking if Lafond will be able to return to his work in a year’s time as planned.
“Maybe he just needs to come to term with the fact he doesn’t have a foot, that he can’t run after his girls anymore,” she said with tears of frustration streaming down her cheeks.
Lafond is having a hard time wrapping his head around the idea of working without a foot or with a prosthetic foot.
He’s still trying to figure out how he will care for Krystal and their two girls. He admits hard to think about how he’ll cope in the future. Lafond was the only breadwinner of the family. He’d recently bought a car but Krystal doesn’t drive. His frustration bubbles to the surface.
“I can’t do nothing,” says Lafond, again rubbing the end of his leg. “I used to drive everywhere, I’d go for a drive with the kids. This has changed my life. They say, ‘we’ll get you fitted with a foot’ but I don’t know. They left the heel there, so I should be able to walk, but I don’t know.”
Lafond also concerned for Krystal, who is also stressed out because of the accident. “It’s impossible,” he says as she leaves the room to quiet the girls. “It’s not fair to her. She’s been my nurse, my best friend, my love, my person to talk to and it is not fair to her.
“I’m hoping I can get back and drive my car.. for now I’m taking it one day at a time…that’s all I can do.
“It’s very depressing.”