War On The Highway
renardwc at ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu
Sat Apr 1 16:52:18 PST 2000
Mar 30 2000: Los Angeles - A California man, trapped for 56 hours in his
overturned van after a crash, cut off his fingers with a pocketknife in
a failed attempt to free himself, it was reported Thursday. Lee Risler,
54, managed to saw off his thumb and three fingers, using a wetsuit as a
tourniquet, but still was unable to get free because the rest of his arm
was pinned, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Risler, in the upside-down van, was eventually discovered by a highway
worker off a southern California freeway in Santa Fe Springs, about 15
miles southeast of Los Angeles. It took rescuers three hours to free him
and doctors were forced to amputate his left arm just above the elbow.
Risler, a sandal-maker and father of four, was on his way to a St.
Patrick's Day festival in Hermosa Beach, south of Los Angeles, on March
17 when his Ford van was sideswiped by another car, sending it out of
control and into a ravine.
His van overturned, trapping his left arm under tree branches that had
crashed through his window. After more than two days and with no help in
sight, Risler became so desperate to escape that he sawed off his thumb
and fingers. `I knew at one point I might have to cut off my hand to get
out,' Risler told the LA Times. `I waited until I knew I had very little
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