Skip to comments.South El Monte High students lose fingers in game of tug-of-war
Posted on 02/05/2013 8:25:08 AM PST by Responsibility2nd
SOUTH EL MONTE - An innocent game of tug-of-war turned tragic Monday afternoon when two South El Monte High School students had their fingers severed.
Tug-of-war is a competitive game in which two teams pull, or tug, on a rope in opposite directions in a show of strength.
The students, a boy and a girl, were participating in the lunchtime Spirit Week activity celebrating homecoming when they were injured, El Monte Union High School District Assistant Superintendent Edward Zuniga said. Neither he nor other district officials would release the students' names or ages.
The girl is a senior and varsity soccer player, while the boy is a football player.
Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Miguel Garcia said firefighters responded at 12:20 p.m. to the school at 1001 Durfee Ave.
"Fingers (were) amputated during some type of tug-of-war," Garcia said. "They were transported by ambulance to a trauma center."
The students were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center after their fingers were torn off, Fire Department officials said.
"They are both stable and the parents were by their bedside," said hospital spokeswoman Rosa Sacca. "They were getting ready to be taken to the operating room to try to re-attach the fingers."
Authorities didn't say how many fingers the girl and the boy lost.
It is unknown how many other teens were participating in the tug-of-war, Zuniga said.
"At this point we're trying to find out more information," Zuniga said.
It is unclear whether the school or the El Monte Union High School District will change their policies on campus activities.
"We'll review the activity with district administration," Zuniga said. "We're in the early stages. We just want to make sure we have all the facts straight before we talk about changing activities."
..went through there a couple of years ago—it’s a Third World city...
They might have wrapped the rope around their hands, it slipped when the tension came, the fingers were still in the loop and both sides were still pulling. Awful, I hope they didn’t loose too many however it happened.
Probably wrapped the rope around their hand or fingers as well.
Some folks take tug of war seriously
I remember several years back a school or church group had a HUGE tug-of war competition using a large nylon rope. There were like a hundred or more people on that rope. The rope snapped and people towards the middle of the rope lost most of their fingers. Just about everyone got injured with severe rope burns and lacerations on their hands.
DO NOT wrap the rope around your hand!!
See post 26 for another possible explanation.
“How can one (or several) not let go of a rope?”
A rope wrapped around a hand will tighten as it gets pulled and you can’t let go.
Basic rope safety -— don’t wrap around your hand.
Apparently, no one there grew up on a farm.
Cheap nylon rope, wrapped around their knuckles and fingers. Sailors and fishermen are well aware of the hazards associated with handling rope like this.
I am guessing they were using small diameter (1/2 inch or smaller) rope.
If they had twisted a half-turn or more around their hands/wrists...that would do it. You couldn’t let go with tension on the rope.
They may have wrapped the rope around their hands.
I know a lady who has had horses all of her life & rides every day.
She has only 2 fingers * her thumb on one hand because she wrapped a lead rope around her hand & the young horse in training pulled back really hard.
People who handle horses are always taught NEVER to wrap the lead rope around your hand—too dangerous.
It’s all fun and games until someone loses a finger.
What happens next week when a student gets a paper cut? Ban rope! Ban paper! Heck, just ban schools and put everyone in a bubble.
People don’t think about the incredible pulling strength of 20 or more people.
I seem to recall reading about this happening before but with middle school students.
Most likely, the line was some synthetic material and participants had wrapped it around their hands to get a better grip. I suspect that several hundred pounds of force would be enough to sever fingers.
Here’s the incident that I recalled from some years past:
In this incident, 650 Scouts were pulling on the rope. Assuming that each Scout could generate, say, twenty pounds of force, that would be 6500 pounds in each direction. That’s over THREE TONS of force. If the Scouts tried to coordinate while jerking on the rope, they might generate twice that amount, or SIX TONS.
I remember a co-worker years ago who was applying compressed air to a plastic container that was roughly a one-foot-cube. The pressure regulator was reading about 15 psi, when it dawned on me that somebody should consider the forces involved. Each face of the cube would consist of 144 inches, so that total force on that face would be roughly 15 times 150 or OVER TWO THOUSAND POUNDS. Just as I was about to warn him that he was doing something foolish, the back of the box was blown off against the nearby wall.