California - Ron Hunt's friends and family have been calling him the "Miracle Man" ever since a 45cm-long drill bit poked through his eye and out the back of his skull.

"It didn't seem possible for him to be alive, seeing him with a drill bit through his head," his nephew Ben Hunt said.

The construction worker from Truckee, California, lost an eye but survived the freak accident on August 15 with no brain damage after falling from a ladder and onto the drill.

The 3,8cm diametre chip auger drill bit was still in his head when his brother, Chris Hunt, and nephew, Ben, met him in a hospital emergency room in Reno, Nevada.

"The nurses braced us for it before we saw him," said Hunt. "It didn't seem real - it seemed like a movie. I wasn't sure what to feel."

Doctors explained that the drill bit pushed his brain aside rather than pushing into it, which likely would have caused serious brain damage or death, he added.

While drilling above his head on August 15, the two metre ladder Ron Hunt was standing on started to wobble so he tossed the drill aside - as construction workers are trained to do. He then fell off the ladder face-first and onto the drill.

"By the time I was falling, and I let the drill go down, I was already on top of it," Ron Hunt told ABC's "Good Morning America" TV show on Tuesday.

"I ran my hands up the drill bit, up to my eye, and put my other hand in the back of my head and felt it coming through the back of my head," he said. "And that's where pretty much the shock set in."

He was taken by helicopter to Washoe Medical Center in Reno. After weighing their options, doctors essentially unscrewed the bit to remove it.

"We would have cut it off, but after a few minutes of drilling, we noticed that it was loose. And so we just put down our blade and twisted the bit," said Dr. Paul Ludlow, the surgeon who performed the operation.

His nephew thinks he'll be able to laugh about it some day.

"It's just going to be one of those stories," Ben Hunt said. "He'll joke around with his glass eye and pop it out." - Sapa-AP