Man Unaware He Shot Nail Into Brain

The X-ray of his skull was so gruesome that his friends thought it had to be a fake. There, lodged sideways in the middle of his brain, was a 3 1/2-inch nail.

Yet, for more than 24-hours, Dante Autullo was blissfully unaware. The 32-year-old Orland Park resident walked, talked, and even did some work at his side job, plowing snow, after he had accidentally shot himself in the head with a nail gun Tuesday morning.

A doctor removed the nail Thursday afternoon at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he is recovering.

“It’s a miracle,” his fiancee Gail Glaenzer said. “Un-freaking-believable.”

She said the accident happened when Autullo was standing on a ladder and working on a project in the garage. He had fired several nails when the recoil of the final shot sent the gun near his head.

With his finger still on the trigger, a sensor on the top of the gun recognized a flat surface, and unloaded a nail into his brain.

Glaenzer, who has four children with Autullo, said he suffered a small gash on his head, which he thought was caused by the nail gun whipping him in the head.

She didn’t see any evidence of any penetration to his skull and Autullo told her the nail shot past his ear. He felt good enough to go out and plow snow.

“He’s a bull, he likes to work,” she said.

He went to work again on Wednesday. When he came home, he took a nap, woke up and felt nauseous. She drove him to Palos Community Hospital for a checkup.

An X-ray showed that there was nail lodged inside his brain, just millimeters away from the part of the brain that controls all motor functions.

“They were shocked because he was walking and talking and he had it in for 36 hours,” said Autullo’s mother, Jerri Autullo. “I hoped that it wasn’t going to be as bad as it looked.”

Autullo’s friend, Alison E. Bushemi, saw the picture he posted on his Facebook wall and thought it was a hoax.

“Then we realized there’s a nail stuck in his brain,” Bushemi said. “It’s something you’d see on (the television show), ‘Untold Stories of E.R.’ ”

Autullo was taken to Christ Medical Center where he had surgery Thursday morning. The operation took about four hours.

A surgeon removed the nail as well as part of his skull, which was replaced with mesh and a titanium plate.

“He wanted me to call the Discovery Channel to come film it,” Glaenzer quipped.

Although the surgery was successful, Autullo isn’t out of the fire just yet. Doctors are still worried about any complications stemming from it including swelling, bleeding, and fever.

His family visited him after his operation. Jerri Autullo said she held her son’s hand and told him the worst was over.

Glaenzer said Autullo was hurting but he could move all of his body parts and talk.

The first thing he asked for was to see their four children, Glaenzer said. He was also angry that he wouldn’t be able to go to work on Friday.

“He’s in the darn hospital yelling that there’s a big snowstorm tomorrow and how’s he going to plow?” Glaenzer said. “This is from a guy who just got his brain cut open.”


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