Thursday, April 11, 2013
A man who intentionally sawed his arms to the bone in a Home Depot store in California remained hospitalized in critical condition on Thursday while investigators tried to determine what led to the horrific action.
The man, whose name wasn't released, underwent surgery and was in intensive care, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez said.
"He's still not speaking," Lopez said. "We don't know anything about his history, motive, concerns at this point."
Police said the man grabbed several small saws, including one meant to cut drywall, and injured himself Wednesday in a Home Depot store in West Covina, a suburb east of Los Angeles.
An off-duty Pasadena Fire Department paramedic used rope and cloths from the shelves to make a tourniquet to help stop the bleeding before West Covina paramedics arrived to take over.
"I'm not on duty, I don't have all the equipment that I normally have," Capt. Art Hurtado said Thursday.
"I kind of MacGyver-ed it," he added, referring to the 1980s TV show about a secret agent who used whatever materials he could find to solve problems.
Hurtado, 51, a firefighter for 21 years, had stopped by the store with his wife to pick up material to replace the trim on his daughter's house.
As he arrived, he noticed police cars. When officers pulled on medical gloves, Hurtado followed them into the store.
"It's just mayhem in there," he recalled. 'Somebody's screaming in there as they're approaching the door that there's blood everywhere."
Hurtado saw blood in several aisles and people running around hysterically.
He walked down an aisle and saw police officers next to a man lying face down in a pool of blood.
"It looks like a crime scene to me, a dead body," he said. "There's splatter everywhere, I'd say another 50, 75 feet of blood."
Hurtado told the store manager that he was a paramedic and he was allowed to move in. He and the officers flipped the man over. He was barely breathing and had no neck pulse.
Hurtado knew he had to do something.
He called for quarter-inch rope and said he would have used his shoelaces if none was available. Somebody grabbed a package of rope from a store shelf. Hurtado had a police officer cut 24-inch sections and he used it and shop towels to make a tourniquet for one arm.
The man started to come around, moaning, and arriving West Covina paramedics took over.
Hurtado, who was working without protective gloves, cleaned up with hand sanitizer.
He said the man had cut through nerves, tendons and arteries to the bone above both elbows. Without fast medical help, he could have died, Hurtado said.
"It's just things you do instinctively. I'm here to serve," he said. "Any one of my brothers and sisters in the department would have done the same thing."