Trauma: Pluck, Luck & Skill

When the roof of a Fort Worth building began to cave in beneath his feet, the first thing Building Wrecker Walter J. Piper did was to throw away his crow bar. The act came within a quarter of an inch of taking his life. Sliding down a beam as the roof fell, Piper, 69, plummeted onto the 5-ft.-long, l-in.-thick tool, which had lodged point up in a pile of debris. The crowbar rammed through Piper's scrotum, smashed his pelvis, punctured his intestines, stomach, diaphragm and a lung before stopping within a quarter of an inch to the right of...