Taiwanese man in critical condition after barbell falls on his neck

While bench pressing heavy weight, barbell slips from man's hands and falls on his neck nearly killing him on the spot in western Taiwan

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Stock image of man bench pressing. (US Air Force Central Command)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- While lifting weights early Sunday (April 22) morning, a man at a gym in western Taiwan's Taichung is in critical condition after a barbell fell on his neck while attempting a solo bench press, reported Apple Daily. 

At 7:50 a.m. yesterday morning, a 27-year-old man surnamed Lee (李) was bench pressing a heavy weight without a spotter at a gym in Taichung's Xitun District when his arms suddenly gave way and the barbell fell right on top of his neck near his clavicle. Others in the gym who saw the accident, lifted the barbell off of him and found that he was not breathing and did not have a pulse.

Paramedics were called to the scene and the immediately attached an automatic external defibrillator (AED), but the device did not recommend delivering a shock. Instead, they implemented CPR and rushed him to the hospital.

After CPR was applied, Lee's pulse and breathing resumed, however, he is still listed in critical condition. 

When Apple Daily reporters went to the fitness center, staff at the main counter said the cause of the accident was still under investigation. The fitness center's public relations representative said that it was confirmed that Lee had been using the bench press without a spotter to guide and assist him as he attempted to lift 70 kilograms, which they described as within a reasonable range for him to be able to lift. 

Lee's mother said he was a seasoned weightlifter and he was not a novice. 

The fire department said that when paramedics arrived on the scene, bystanders were already carrying out CPR on Lee and his neck and clavicle were clearly bruised and witnesses said the barbell had pressed on his neck. 

A personal trainer from another fitness center surnamed Wang, told Apple Daily that doing the bench press solo is "too dangerous!" He said that the average weight that most men can raise on the bench press is between 70 to 90 kilograms and only professionals are able to press more than 100 kilograms. 

Wang said, "Unless it's an empty bar, once weights are added, a spotter should be there to help hold the barbell and help avoid accidents, especially when the weight is slightly heavier."