EAST ALTON — The mother of a man burned in an explosion at Olin Brass in East Alton last month says he’s recovering a little bit more every day.
Chris Robinson, 41, suffered third-degree burns to his head and face, a laceration to his left leg that severed a main artery and nine broken ribs on the right side of his body in the May 27 explosion, according to his mother, Sharon Robinson. The Brighton resident and father of three was airlifted by ARCH helicopter to St. John’s Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, where he’s been treated ever since.
Sharon Robinson said it’s been a “long, long haul” since the accident but that her son is getting better with each passing day.
“Every day he (shows) a little bit of improvement,” Sharon Robinson said.
Sharon Robinson said she was at her dentist’s office on the day of the accident. When she was told of an explosion at the brass plant, she said she immediately knew her son was in danger.
“You get these feelings,” Sharon Robinson said. “(The office workers) knew that I knew from Minute One that that was Chris.”
According to previous reports by the Telegraph, the explosion was contained to the casting unit where Chris Robinson was working. Robinson, an employee at the factory for 21 years, and one other Olin Brass employee suffered injuries from the explosion, but the other employee was treated and released the same day. Olin Brass spokesperson Ann Pipkin said more details on the day’s incidents are still being gathered but have not yet been released.
“As far as I know, they are attempting to finalize that investigation to determine cause,” Pipkin said. “I have not received any word that that is complete.”
It’s been a slow process, but Sharon Robinson describes her son’s recovery as a “miracle.” Much of his head, face and hands are wrapped and he’s had several skin grafts, but Sharon Robinson said doctors expect him to live. She also said one of the severed muscles in his leg needed to be removed, but eventually he shouldn’t require assistance to walk. He recently began breathing on his own again without the assistance of a ventilator.
“So many good things have happened to us that it’s what’s kept us going,” Sharon Robinson said. “That and praying constantly.”
Sharon Robinson said the support and love from the community has also helped in the tough times.
“People have been so good,” Sharon Robinson said. “So many prayers, so many churches. I would just like to thank people for all the prayers.”
While there’s still a long road ahead, Sharon Robinson believes her son’s condition will continue to improve. Although he’s still unable to speak, Chris recently found a way to hold Sharon’s hand — despite his hands being wrapped heavily in bandages — to let her know he’s going to be alright.
“He knew of a way he could move his fingers and we could put our fingertips in with his and we could hold tips of fingers,” Sharon Robinson said. “That was our way of touching each other. It meant more than a million dollars to this old mama, I’ll tell you.”
Nathan Grimm may be reached at 618-208-6451 or on Twitter @GrimmTelegraph.