Carl “Ole” Gifford is lucky to be alive.

The city of Astoria public works employee, injured on the site of the Combined Sewer Overflow project, was hit in the neck by a saw while cutting pipe in a trench on 12th Street and Franklin Avenue.

Gifford’s wife Traci said a doctor said he’d never seen anybody survive from this type of injury and he had high praise for the first responders.

Astoria Fire Department and Medix Ambulance Service responded. Gifford was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital where a tracheotomy was preformed before Gifford was transferred to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland.

Today, Gifford, 49, is listed in serious condition.

“He wouldn’t have made it to Portland without it,” Traci Gifford said of the tracheotomy.

Traci Gifford described her husband’s injury as an 8-inch gash from left to right across his neck. The saw severed Gifford’s windpipe and vocal cords.

“We don’t know what his voice is going to do,” she said. “He’s going to make it – it’s just going to be a slow process.”

Gifford, who has worked for the city of Astoria for 14 years, will likely be in the hospital for a week, with a 6-week recovery process. He is sedated and is being kept from moving his head too much. He underwent surgery.

“The surgery went well,” Traci Gifford said. “They repaired everything they needed to repair.”

Gifford will not be allowed visitors until next week.

Reporter Ted Shorack contributed to this story.

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