You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
A two-year-old boy's tongue was impaled by a wrought iron fire poker in a "freak accident" in Hanmer Springs yesterday.
The boy's mother, who was visiting Hanmer with her son, heard him screaming from another room about 11.30am, a Westpac Rescue Helicopter spokesman said.
She found a wrought iron fire poker had gone right through her son's tongue.
"It's actually been impaled in his tongue. We don't know how he's done it - he may have just fallen down," the spokesman said.
"His mum heard him scream, but we can't work out how he's actually created the force to impact it, so we're not sure ... It's one of those sort of freak accidents."
Miraculously, the rest of the boy's mouth was unscathed.
"It could have occluded his whole airway and he could have been dead, so it's always better than that," the spokesman said.
The boy had been "really good" despite the injury.
"He was obviously screaming to start off with, but by the time we got there he was calm and he was quite good, actually."
The mother had also coped well.
"She was quite happy - obviously a few things going on, but she was good because if she started panicking, he probably would too. So she did a great job."
The boy was given pain relief and was flown to Christchurch Hospital to get the poker removed.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter was also called to the Motukarara Raceway, on Banks Peninsula, where an 80-year-old woman had been struck by the wheel of a sulky about 2pm on Sunday.
The helicopter spokesman said the woman had been in the birdcage - the area where jockeys get on and off their horses or sulkies - because she had a horse in a race.
"She was hit very lightly by a sulky that was turning around ... she was knocked to the ground. It wasn't high-impact or high-speed or anything."
The woman fractured her leg in the fall.
She was in a bit of pain but was "relatively stoic" as she was flown to Christchurch Hospital.
- By Matthew Backhouse of APNZ