Jayson Bush, 22, at his Canberra home. Photo: Colleen Petch
He is broken, battered and bruised, but 21-year-old Jayson Bush is alive - a fact that sometimes astonishes him.
The 21-year-old labourer nearly became another Canberra construction worker fatality last month when he fell 6.5 metres down an airconditioning vent onto a concrete floor at the Nishi apartment complex, in Civic.
The ACT has suffered a record number of industrial deaths this year, with three construction workers and a painter dying on the job.
Jayson Bush in the back brace he will wear for the next eight weeks. Photo: Colleen Petch
For close to two hours, Jayson lay in blackness with a broken back, five broken ribs, a punctured lung, a serious head wound and ''a shoulder that felt like it had been pushed into my chest''.
He was working alone cutting a large hole in a wall to access an air vent when he fell. Jayson had asked his supervisor for assistance before starting the job but said ''everyone was under the pump that day'' and he was instructed to do it alone.
It meant that as he lay in the dark, drifting in and out of consciousness, he knew no one was coming to help.
''When I first opened my eyes, I thought I was dead, because I couldn't see anything, hear anything, and I couldn't breathe.'' It took everything in him to calm down and slow his heart rate while he thought out what to do.
Running his hands over his body to see what bones were broken, Jayson's fingers found his phone.
Fumbling the number several times, he finally dialled 000 and whispered to the dispatch officer to send an ambulance to Nishi before passing out.
When he came to, he then tried to call a workmate but had no reception.
Hearing his radio still going above him, Jayson waited for breaks in the music and tried to yell for help.
''But my mouth kept filling with blood and I just didn't have the breath in me.''
The pain was almost intolerable.
He hoped a mate would stop by during the lunch break - which is exactly what happened when he heard the familiar voice of Andy Hewitt call out, ''Mate, are you all right?'''
All he could manage was an expletive.
The next few hours were a blur as the ambulance crew arrived and he was whisked to Canberra Hospital and the embrace of his distraught family.
Jayson credits his safety helmet - which came off during the fall - with saving his life. The circumstances of the accident are likely to be the subject of a court case.
Jayson said he did not harbour ill feeling towards his boss and that the company had been good to him and his family since the accident. But he wasn't sure he could ever return to construction.