Skip to comments.Man cuts off toes to escape
Posted on 08/31/2011 9:30:28 AM PDT by GSWarrior
MONTROSE Semi-retired logger John Hutt has always known his line of work is dangerous.
Working alone in a remote wilderness in San Miguel County the morning of Aug. 19, he was forced to cut off all of the toes on his right foot after nearly six tons of machinery slipped and pinned his foot.
Hutt used a 3-inch pocketknife to sever his toes from the machinery.
The 61-year-old later drove to a parking lot near the Ridgway Dam, where an ambulance arrived to take him to Montrose Memorial Hospital.
Hutt didnt face the prospect of waiting several lonely days to make his amputation decision as Aron Ralston did in 2003 when his arm was crushed beneath a boulder in an eastern Utah slot canyon. Ralston eventually amputated his arm and walked out in the open, where he was spotted by other hikers who summoned help.
The Montrose man made his decision in about 30 minutes.
What are my chances of people finding me? It wasnt that hard of a decision to make. I just felt trapped, Hutt said.
Hutt arrived that Friday morning just after 8 oclock in a remote, sparsely filled subdivision on Specie Mesa off Specie Creek Road, a U.S. Forest Service road off Colorado Highway 145, a few miles from Placerville. He was there to retrieve a pile of fallen Aspen trees to cut up for winter firewood. He was driving a Western Star tractor-trailer fitted with a hydraulic arm and detachable trailer.
Hutt said he was standing on the rear-axle area of the truck as he detached the trailer to load the trees, a procedure he has done thousands of times, when the trailer unexpectedly slipped and pinned his foot against the axle.
The pain was so severe, Hutt said, he screamed profanities as he looked down to see what had happened. A throbbing sensation began to run up his leg, and each time he tried to move the foot, it hurt even more.
You dont panic or anything. You just try and figure a way out, Hutt said.
Hutts cell phone was in the cab of the truck, not that it mattered. There was no cell service in the area.
Hutt saw a house 300 yards away and began screaming for help. After five minutes he stopped, which was just as well. He later learned the house was empty.
Earlier that morning, Hutt told his wife, Margaret, the tree retrieval was a simple run, and he would be home sometime between 1 or 2 oclock in the afternoon. However, Hutt said, she was used to him being several hours late because of common delays that loggers can experience, such as equipment breaking down.
Standing with his foot trapped in the middle of the woods, he realized it probably would be dark before anyone would begin to look for him. He also saw his foot swelling, and he feared he might go into shock, pass out and fall in a way that could cause more bleeding.
He searched his pockets to find a tube of Chapstick and his 10-year-old Trapper Old Timer pocketknife.
Hutt said he cut away the boot to survey the damage to his foot. When he got to his sock, he saw blood.
His next move he debated for only 30 minutes and determined he had to cut himself away from the truck.
So, I thought, All right, you might as well cut this thing off. Its the only way out. If I pass out and go into shock, Im done, and if I drop this pocketknife, Im done, Hutt said.
Hutt began to cut on the right side of his right foot. He said he would cut for a few seconds before stopping to catch his breath and wipe sweat from his eyes. By the time he made it to his two largest toes, the knife was getting dull from having to cut through bone, nerves and tendons.
At that point the pain didnt even matter, it wasnt like it hurt more, Hutt said.
He said he used leverage, and after a hard effort he cut through his big toe and was free. He estimated it took 10 to 15 minutes to complete the amputation of the five toes.
He then wrapped his T-shirt around the foot and secured it with black electrical tape.
Moments later, he used the hydraulic arm to reload the trailer onto the truck. That also freed the boot with his severed toes in it, so he grabbed it, threw it in the truck and drove off.
He finally got cell-phone service while driving over Dallas Divide, and he called 911 and told the dispatcher he was four miles west of Ridgway.
He said he bypassed the Ridgway clinic and told the 911 dispatcher he was going to make it to Montrose to try to save his toes.
I told her that I needed a surgeon. She kept saying, Pull that truck over, pull that truck over, and I said, Nope, I aint gonna do it, Hutt said.
He finally pulled over in a parking lot near the Ridgway Dam after he noticed the trailer wasnt properly secured.
Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Jerry Wiseman, who arrived at the Ridgway Dam at about 10:30 a.m., confirmed some of Hutts story.
We had got a call of man with a severed foot, Wiseman said. He told our dispatcher that he was in Ridgway and wasnt stopping.
I had just arrived there when they were putting him in the ambulance. There was a boot, and I was told his toes were still inside.
Hutt was taken to the Montrose hospital, where doctors said there was nothing to salvage, and the toes could not be reattached. The doctors cleaned up the wound, removed some bone and stitched his foot, he said.
Hutt said his foot could take a month or more to heal, and once its healed, the injury wont deter him from logging or operating heavy cranes.
Looking back, Hutt said he still believes he made the right decision.
My son joked that I dont have to worry about stubbing my toes anymore, Hutt said with a laugh.
Harold the Barrel?
Can’t go far , He can’t go far.
Hasn’t got a leg to stand on.
He can’t go far.
Chuck Norris admires this guy.
This little piggy went to market...
Golly gee whiz!
Because I often complain about the stupidity and lack of ability of many reporters, I have to say this was one of the clearest, detailed, cogent stories I’ve read in years.
In fact, the detail about the actual amputation was probably something I could have done without.
I dedicate this song to tree huggin hippies everywhere.
I agree. One of the best written articles I have read in some time.
The man is a certified bada$$.
I was a deputy sheriff in logging country in the 70s. Most of them were pretty tough. They worked hard and played harder. If you had to lay a night stick, steel flashlight or barrel of your hog leg upside their head, they didn’t hold a grudge and would readily admit they had it coming once they sobered up. However, if you maced them you were considered a dirty SOB and they would not forget it.
I have professional training in journalism and I would have to agree. Reporter gets an A+.
Oh, Hollywood will do a movie, but unlike the hiker in the Utah desert who cut off his hand, they’ll paint this guy as a villan who deserved it for cutting down trees and not driving his Prius from worksite to worksite.
Now that’s a MAN!!!
With the scarcity of workmen like this; the dangerous environment and even more hazardous equipment - the company should make sure that nobody is all alone - out there in the wild.
I see another Viagra commercial using the theme “This is the age of knowing how to get things done.”
Except, of course, the decision NOT to wear steel-toed boots.
Yeah, it would have been so much quicker for the boot to sever the toes. I'm not certain 12,000 pounds would have been stopped by them, but maybe the steel toe may have helped the boot get pushed out of the way rather than trapping him.
If he’d waited a day or two, he could’ve gotten a movie deal like the guy in Utah. Throw in some wolves or a bear smelling the blood...
My husband did some screaming when our 1500 pound cow stepped on his foot and wouldn’t move cause she had her head in a grain bucket eating....I was holding the grain bucket and he was spraying her with fly spray. Had to take the bucket away so she would move....ouchy...snicker snicker....