back to article Ludicrously lucky teen survives spear through brain

Sixteen-year-old Yasser Lopez will likely have a "miraculous recovery" despite a three-foot spear having been thrust through his head. "If you had to have a spear go through there [the head], then this spear chose the right path to go with the least damage," neurosurgeon Ross Bullock told ABC News. The Reg admits to some …


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  1. Plonkybear
    IT Angle

    Phineas Gage.... in peace

    1. Martin Huizing
      IT Angle

      Re: Phineas Gage....

      Well, I heard he turned out to be a real bastard, so screw him!

    2. Jonathan Bliss

      Re: Phineas Gage....

      Thank you, this was my immediate thought when I read it. Ripley's Believe it or not will have to buy his skull when he dies.

  2. Uncle Siggy

    Stick a trident in him...

    ...he's done.

    1. Marshalltown

      Re: Stick a trident in him...

      A Trident would be way too big. Even the Hunley or the Ictineo would be.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Stick a trident in him...

        Reminds me of the old Not the Nine O'Clock news sketch that went along the lines of..

        "The bullet passed right through his head, missing his brain by 6 feet"

        1. Jedit
          Thumb Up

          Not the Nine O'Clock News

          Yeah, I came in to crack that joke, modifying the distance to three feet.

          The original was about Idi Amin surviving an assassination attempt, by the way.

  3. min

    this chap...

    ...just isn't supposed to win that Darwin award. Lucky one.

    must try harder.

    At least he'll live to tell the tale. Perhaps even give others pointers on how to avoid the tip of the spear.Even if they need such advice like they need an arrow through the head.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: this chap...

      Wouldn't qualify for a Darwin Award, min. He didn't do it to himself.

      1. ian 22

        Re: this chap...

        Bad choice of friends? Low Chlormidian quotient? If 'tis better to be lucky than to be good, then perhaps this one is weak in the Force.

        Can we say he is responsible for this "accident" at some existential level?

  4. simbr

    He arrives in hospital alive.. so why are they surprised to find it missed anything that would have killed him instantly?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A priori

      Presumably they were using their medical expertise and saying that, a priori, a spear through the head is very likely to result in a fast death. At least I hope it's not based on a high-confidence sample.

  5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    The temptation

    "The temptation if you don't have experience with these things is, 'Oh well, pull it out' "

    I would have thought the temptation would be to run around screaming and then call an ambulance.

    1. sjsmoto

      Re: The temptation

      I'd like to know where - other than Deliverance - one might expect a long sharp thing to be pulled out.

    2. Def Silver badge

      Re: The temptation

      Actually, if I absolutely had to do something, my first instinct would be to cut it down to a manageable length and push it through.

      Either that or cut it right down and maybe put some flowers on it.

  6. jake Silver badge

    First rule of weapons handling:

    Never point the business end at a life-form unless you intend to kill it.

    1. Exit Stage Right

      Re: First rule of weapons handling:

      My friend had a "gun" dog that as soon as he picked up a rifle/shotgun would move like lightning to his owners left leg; we were convinced it had seen enough of what happened to things the "business" end had seen to and it was determined not to be one of them.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @ESR (was: Re: First rule of weapons handling:)

        All my gundogs have done that, since before I can remember. It's called good training. I don't hunt anymore, but my old Standard Poodle[1] still does that, and then gets disgusted when we head for my target range. When the migrating geese are over-nighting on my ponds, he sits on the rug in front of the fireplace, staring at Grandad's old shotgun that hangs over it, and occasionally shoots me a withering look ... He never quite managed to make the change between "Browning" and "Hasselblad" :-/

        Side note: Beer & weapons are never a good mix.

        [1] Wonderful bird dogs, if you know what you are doing.

        1. L.B.

          Re: @ESR (was: First rule of weapons handling:)


          I wouldn't mind betting all your down votes are from urbanites who think all meat come from Tesco, so "nothing has to be killed to provide it".

    2. r3ality66

      Re: First rule of weapons handling:

      The same could be said for an ITIL PowerPoint presentation ;-)

  7. Dire Criti¢
    Thumb Down


    "Luckily, the paramedics who stabilized Lopez... ...didn't succumb to that temptation."

    Or more accurately...

    "luckily the well-trained paramedics... ...didn't succumb to forgetting their training".

  8. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Never mind the spear...

    ...check out the teeth.

  9. Anonymous John

    Shouldn't that be boatnote or shootnote?

  10. Mark Webster

    I used to be a fisherman like you

  11. Dave 32

    Saburo Sakai

    Getting an object through the brain isn't necessarily fatal, as was illustrated by the case of Saburo Sakai:

    In his case, he took a .30 caliber machine gun bullet through his head, and managed to fly his plane back to the base.


  12. Anonymous Coward

    Glad he still has motor function - he'll need it to punch his 'friend' in the face.

  13. Jan 0 Silver badge

    Any spearfishing experts care to comment?

    It's a _very_ long time since I went spearfishing, but I remember having (a) spring loaded barb(s) on the spear to stop the fish wriggling off. What would you catch with the kind of spear imaged here?

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Any spearfishing experts care to comment?

      a teenager?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why is anyone surprised ? He's a teenager, and lots of people survive damage to organs they don't use.

  15. Graham Marsden

    If it was his friend hit by this...

    ... it would probably have missed his brain by three feet.

  16. BlueGreen

    I thought

    such niceties as his senses, heart rate, and breathing were controlled by the brainstem ie. quite some inches lower.

    Personality changes, maybe...

    Jammy though.

    1. ian 22

      Re: I thought

      So glad none of the deluxe options (speech, cognition, personality, etc.) were affected!

  17. Uncle Siggy

    Nevermind the bollocks... comes an spear!

  18. Annihilator Silver badge

    IT angle?

    Not sure about IT angle, but spear angle looks about 20°

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. ArmanX

    I'm a bit confused...

    The article says the spear went in just above his right eye, and that he would have some trouble with the left side of his body... but the article also says that the spear went through his left hemisphere. Which, as far as I know, is on the left side of the body. Thus "left".

    Or was this a magic spear?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm a bit confused...

      I suppose it's because he was angling.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm a bit confused...

      I was wondering about that too. From the description of the damage it sounded like the spear went at an angle through his head; likely going right between the two hemispheres at least part of the way. But the bit about motor function doesn't work out right.

      First, the brain maps all signals to the opposite hemisphere, so the left hemisphere would control the right half of his body. Second, since the motor and tactile sensory areas are in the middle of the brain (from front to back) they would be less likely to be damaged than his personality (prefrontal cortex--front of the brain, above the eyes) or his vision (visual cortex--back of the brain).

      Looking at the original ABC article, they said:

      "The X-rays of Lopez’s head showed the spear went all the way through his head at an angle and exited the other side but just missed his eye and dodged all major blood vessels in Lopez’s brain. It also traveled through the right hemisphere of his brain, less than one inch above the central brain that controls the senses, heart rate and breathing."

      So, it did traverse the right hemisphere of his brain, which may produce issues with the left side of his body or any of the other myriad functions which are implemented over there. Though, from the sounds of it, I'd expect a more temporary loss of functionality until the brain remaps and rebuilds around the damage.

    3. wowfood

      Re: I'm a bit confused...

      Well, imagine I'm your friend, and you're standing to my left while I load my trust spear gun.

      what angle is it pointing while I load it? It probably hit above the right eye and went across probably through the center of the brain and then into the left hemsphere.

    4. John McCallum

      Re: I'm a bit confused...

      No magic involved the right hemisphere of your brain controls the left side of your body and of course vice versa,basic biology.

      1. ArmanX

        Re: I'm a bit confused...

        @John McCallum - yes, but the left hemisphere is usually in the left half of your head. Thus "left" hemisphere. And it controls the right half of the body, you're right - but the article says the boy will have problems with the left side of his body, instead. It sounds as if the article swapped 'right' and 'left' for the brain bit, but not the rest of the description.

        @anon and wowfood - it doesn't make a lot of sense that it would enter above the right eye and miss the right hemisphere... I suppose it's possible, but not at such an angle as the spear pokes out the back.

  21. bep


    I understand that the first definite indication that different areas of the brain controlled different functions resulted from an even more traumatic injury to a US railway builder in the 19th Century. He was tamping down some dynamite with a three foot crowbar when 'BOOM'. Crowbar went clean through his skull and travelled a considerable distance down-range. He survived but had distinct personality changes (not just a fear of dynamite and crowbars).

    1. MondoMan

      Re: Ouch

      Plonkybear posted that man's name in post #1.

  22. tkioz
    Thumb Up

    Queue Joke about teenagers not having brains...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As my wife puts it ...

      1 boy one brain.

      2 boys half a brain.

      3 boys no brain.

      Fortunately she's just changing jobs so will now get to deal with adults.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Your joke is in a queue and will be laughed at as soon as one of our operatives is free. Thank you for jesting."

      Me, I cue things up.

  23. Mike Wilson

    Ludicrously lucky teen survives spear through brain

    "Ludicrously lucky"? If he was ludicrously lucky his careless pal would have shot himself in the foot. Getting shot in the head is not lucky even if you survive.

  24. Stoneshop Silver badge

    A user's brain?

    Is there such a thing?

  25. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I would've kept it in

    apart from looking harder than anyone else in town so being able to get drinks at the bar without problems think of the IT gadgets you could attach to it!

    And the wifi range would be pretty good too!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obviously Christian fundamentalist...

    Taking literally the "I will make you fishers of men" instruction. (Matthew 4:19)

  27. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    ' The temptation if you don't have experience with these things is, 'Oh well, pull it out'," '

    No! I have no experience with these things but common sense would tell me that would be the most stupid thing to do! Even more so for something like a barb weapon designed NOT to come back out that easily!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This article

    needs more Friday.

  29. Tank boy

    Can't we just give Florida back to Spain?

  30. VinceH

    " The Reg admits to some puzzlement as to how Bullock could suggest any situation in which anyone would need to have had a spear go through their head"

    Indeed. Most people need that like they need a hole in their head.

  31. TAJW

    Likely we'll have a huge hue and cry to outlaw spearguns now, because obviously the World+Dog can't be trusted with them after this event.

    Just like guns, as the whole world knows Americans run up and down the streets willy-nilly waving guns and shooting each other for fun.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought

    But would anti tetanus even help?

    Thought that the whole point was to generate an immune reaction to the tetanus causing bacterium, but immune responses don't work for the brain due to the presence of the blood brain barrier which blocks white cells etc.

    One of the reasons that medical implants can be used for intracranial use without additional surface treatment.

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