DENVER - While he is unable to speak or move, Adrian Vigil's family says it's incredible that he's even alive.
Vigil was standing next to his car when it exploded late Thursday night in Greeley and yet somehow he survived.
The blast could be heard for miles, and sent debris flying hundreds of feet.
Adrian lost an eye and has serious burns and broken bones.
"Initially, [my reaction was] just blank shock. They said that Adrian was in an accident where the car exploded," Adrian's father Tony Vigil said in a waiting room at Denver Health, where Adrian has been in intensive care since Saturday.
Adrian was staying with a friend's home on 46th Avenue near 5th Street Thursday night and was getting something out of his 1997 ford Taurus around 10:40 p.m. when the car blew up.
Vigil says the force of the explosion peeled back Adrian's scalp.
"To me it was like a horror show," Vigil said, describing the first time he saw his son's injuries. "It felt like my heart just went thump. I was scared. It was scary."
Adrian's cousin Isaac Bocock says he heard the explosion from his house, three-and-a-half miles away.
He says Adrian was storing a bottle of acetylene in his trunk. Acetylene is a chemical commonly used by welders, but he says Vigil was using it for his job as a plumber.
The chemical was leaking from the bottle and that's what fire investigators say triggered the explosion.
"I don't recall seeing a safety cap on that bottle," Bocock said. "If you're not properly trained you could get killed from them."
Doctors at Denver Health say Adrian's already had five surgeries and needs at least one more. He remains in the ICU and has another surgery scheduled for Wednesday.
Dr. Carlton Barnett compares Adrian's injury to those suffered by combat troops in the path of an Improvised Explosive Device or IED.
"It's not something we deal with a lot in the United States, a blast injury. It's kind of a combination of getting shot, getting burned, and getting in a car wreck," Barnett said.
Trauma surgeons at Denver Health have traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan for training with military doctors.
"We've learned a lot actually from the recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts on how to take care of these patients," Barnett said.
Adrian's family is anxious for him to come home.
They say Adrian was in-between jobs and doesn't have insurance to cover the mounting medical bills, already hundreds of thousands of dollars.
They plan to set up a fund to help cover some of those expenses, although right now their main focus is Adrian's recovery.
"It's really amazing he was able to survive this," Bocock said.
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