Indeed, sounds as if he was benchpressing. A couple of years ago a friend of mine broke a rip (the broken bone almost pierced his heart...) while bench pressing 150kg for reps on his own. The barbell slipped from his hands (I think he tried some strange grip or something but don't ask me what...) and hit his chest. His bodyweight was 140kg then but it could still have been the end too.
In my opinion the bench press is the most dangerous barbell excercise you can do on your own... unless you use a powerrack or a spotter or do floor presses instead.