DENVER - Adrian Vigil survived the un-survivable.
A car explosion in Greeley last month sent debris flying hundreds of feet, and could he heard more than three miles away.
Less than three weeks after the blast, Vigil is making an incredible recovery.
He spoke exclusively with 9NEWS about the moment he thought he was going to die.
"It's amazing to me that I'm still intact," Vigil said. "It's amazing I'm alive."
Welding chemicals Vigil kept in his trunk for his plumbing job blew up when he went to his car on Feb. 14.
"The initial explosion was the acetylene tank," Vigil said. "I remember just putting the key in the trunk, turning it, and the next thing you know I'm on my back. I feel the snow."
Vigil says his friend Jesse ran outside.
"The tank blew up. He kept dragging me away from the car and soon after the car blew up," Vigil said. "I really thought I was going to die."
Doctors didn't know if Vigil would make it.
"The skin on my head was peeled back. I was unrecognizable. My head was distorted and the size of a basketball. I lost an eyeball. Twenty-five percent of my body was hit with shrapnel," Vigil said.
Dr. Carlton Barnett, who treated Vigil, compared his 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 told 9NEWS a few days after the explosion.
For Vigil, the pain is constant.
"I was pulling glass out of my head just a few days ago," Vigil said. "It hurts."
Vigil says he can sleep just two hours at a time and he has only looked in the mirror twice.
"It wasn't pretty," Vigil said.
His wounds are healing quickly. Vigil has partial vision in his right eye and he also sees life in a new way.
He says surviving the explosion puts everything in perspective.
"Appreciate the people in your life. We don't know if we have tomorrow or what that's going to look like," Vigil said.
Doctors at Denver Health moved Vigil out of intensive care and into rehab Monday.
He still has a long recovery but hopes to go home to Greeley as soon as possible.
Vigil was self-employed and uninsured.
His father set up a fund to help cover the mounting medical bills.
Donations can be made:
In care of Antonio Vigil
822 14th St
Greeley, CO 80631
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