A Canberra man has suffered chemical burns in his eyes after accidentally spraying petrol into his face during a routine stop at a service station.
Graham Cox, 35, was trying to fill up a five-litre jerry can when the pressure from the petrol bounced off the bottom of the can and spurted back onto his face.
What alarmed him most was the shocking response he received from service station staff, as he claims his requests for help seemingly fell on deaf ears.
“As per the instructions, the jerry can was placed on the floor, I was at arm’s length,” Mr Cox told news.com.au.
“I squeezed the nozzle, the pressure must have rebounded back onto my face. It was horrible, it was in both eyes.”
Near-blind from the burning sensation in his eyes, he stumbled into the Canberra store to ask for help but was instead made to pay his petrol bill.
He blindly tapped his credit card, unable to make out numbers and describing everything as “blurry”.
The incident, which occurred around 3.30pm on Tuesday, left him racing to the emergency department to stop any permanent damage to his vision.
As soon as the petrol hit his face, Mr Cox said he tried to use his T-shirt to wipe the fuel off but still struggled to see.
He then searched for running water to clean out his eyes and although there were taps near the bowsers, none of them had handles. “So I used a paper towel,” he recalled.
He stumbled into the petrol station asking for a working tap but the attendant appeared to not have a strong grasp of the English language.
“I asked the attendant, he didn’t understand what a tap was, he didn’t understand,” Mr Cox said.
“He didn’t comprehend the severity of the situation. My eyes are burning, he looked at me dumbfoundedly.”
The service station employee appears to have thought Mr Cox was talking and gesticulating frantically because he wanted to pay for the small amount of petrol he had spilt over himself.
“He had no idea, he brought up the bill, I just tapped my card and rushed out.”
In total, it cost $10.46 for the mishap.
Mr Cox drove the 15 minutes home with significantly diminished vision, saying, “I couldn’t see my phone, I couldn’t see writing, everything was very blurred, you couldn’t call or message anyone, you just couldn’t see.”
After jumping in the shower when he got home, the burning feeling hadn’t subsided, so he headed straight to the emergency ward.
Upon arriving at the hospital and explaining his situation, he was rushed through the hospital to get urgent treatment on both his eyes.
“My PH levels in my eyes were out of whack,” Mr Cox explained.
Medical staff linked him up to a drip that flushed the toxic chemicals out of his eyes.
“I think it took about an hour to flush it out,” he said.
He said the doctor’s report stated he had chemical burns to the eyes.
When speaking to news.com.au, there was still a burning feeling in his eyes. The doctor gave him eyedrops to relieve the sensation.
Luckily, he has been told it shouldn’t lead to permanent damage.
Mr Cox was also unimpressed with the response he received from EG Australia, which owns the service station.
He wrote a complaint and a customer service representative asked him for a receipt of his transaction, which he said was the last thing on his mind at the time.
They have also refused to hand over any CCTV footage of the incident.
A company representative called Mr Cox on Wednesday and told him he could have used the store’s toilet to access a tap and solve his problem.
“I couldn’t see and the attendant gave me no direction,” Mr Cox told news.com.au afterwards.
EG Australia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.