Craig man faces severe wounds after Thursday explosion
Wagner family seeks donations for medical costs as patriarch recovers
April 2, 2016
It was a typical Thursday afternoon for Moffat County resident Daina Wagner, but a sudden explosion and what followed had her wondering if her life and the lives of her loved ones were about to change forever.
Daina's husband, Wayne, was severely injured while using a plasma torch in his workshop on the family's property on US Highway 40 about six miles west of Craig.
Daina, a cosmetologist, was wrapping up her workday and was about to give her 5-year-old daughter, Dallis, a haircut in her home salon when she heard the noise, "a horrible, horrible boom."
"I can't even express how bad," she said of the cacophony. "When you're around something super-loud, you know something's not right."
When her 9-year-old daughter, Kydalin, told her that her spouse was lying on the floor of his shop, she hoped she was joking.
Recommended Stories For You
Within seconds, the situation was all too real.
As she rushed to help her husband, her first instinct was to transport him to medical care herself, but as she called 911, the bewildered wife started to piece things together to describe to the dispatcher, such as the two feet of blood pooled up around Wayne.
Believing he might choke to death if she didn't react, Daina tossed aside her phone and car keys and hoisted her husband off the ground and up on her shoulder, which seemed to revive him.
The sound of his hacking up blood was matched with the sight of the unmistakable remnants of a welding mask split into hundreds of pieces, some scattered across the shop, others embedded in the face of the man who was in a great deal of pain.
Daina sat Wayne in a chair brought in by her 11-year-old son, Ezra, but she could tell he was trying to get to the salon.
"There was no stopping him," she said.
Daina partly carried him to the sink of the salon, where Wayne used a hose to start rinsing off his face, which was about the same time emergency responders appeared on the scene.
"It was amazing to me how fast they were," Daina said of the response, which included an ambulance from The Memorial Hospital and Craig Fire/Rescue. "They were very, very quick, and I think that's what helped."
Daina had to situate her children before joining her husband at TMH, and shortly thereafter, he was flown to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, where he is currently receiving treatment.
Every bone in Wayne's face was broken in the accident, Daina said, requiring reconstructive surgery.
Daina took her 1-year-old baby daughter, Cashlin, with her to Grand Junction, though the older children remained at home with their grandparents.
"They're pretty shook-up since they don't know what's happening and they saw the whole thing," she said. "It has not been easy for them at all."
Daina added that her adopted daughter, Courtney Corbett, 17, has also made the emergency much easier, looking after the kids and also setting up a page for online donations — http://www.gofundme.com/waynewagner, which collected nearly $4,000 after about one day, going online Friday — to help with the inevitable medical costs.
"She is a huge help right now, a huge blessing," Daina said of Courtney, adding that she is thankful for the assistance her parents have provided in her time of need as well.
A self-employed welder and fabricator, Wayne, 35, had been constructing a burn barrel as a personal project when the explosion happened. Daina said Wayne was unable to recall any of the details at first, and neither of them are entirely sure what caused the materials to combust.
Wayne has had little trouble speaking despite the damage to his visage — needing his jaw wired shut and removal of a tooth for a plate, among other procedures needed heading into recovery — but his wife has had to help him take it easy.
"He's trying to be ornery and optimistic, and that's a good sign," Daina said. "He's a very positive guy. Just trying to keep his pain level under control is the biggest thing right now."
Daina said doctors have told her Wayne could be discharged Monday if everything goes well in what will be the first step in healing, though she's not about to let him jump right back into work.
She noted that she has received an overload of phone calls, text messages and emails, and while she regrets not being able to respond to most, the amount of well-wishers has touched her heart.
"We have a lot of friends and family, and we are truly blessed how much the community has come together," she said. "Please keep up the prayers and positive thoughts. It sure means a lot for us."
Though the accident has had unfortunate consequences, the Wagner family is one that looks for the silver lining, Daina said, describing the aftermath as "a good experience for a bad situation."
"It's brought a lot of people together is what it's done," she said. "It's such a blessing to see how many people have had us in their thoughts and prayers. We're so thankful that he's alive."
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.