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Fire captain saves man attempting to saw arms in Home Depot

April 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A fire captain was shopping at Home Depot when he spotted a man trying to saw off his arms and jumped into action.

"As I walked in, he was face down," said Pasadena Fire Captain Art Hurtado. "I thought it was a crime scene with a fatality."

Hurtado helped save a man's life Wednesday. He jumped into action at a Home Depot in West Covina after a man had taken a saw from the store's display and used it to try to cut off his arms.

The 51-year-old captain says the injuries were so severe the man barely had a pulse and had lost a lot of blood.

"I thought of using either my shoelaces or grabbing some rope so I yelled out for some four-inch rope," said Hurtado. "I asked one of the officers to start cutting the sections into manageable sections, they did. We applied a cursory tourniquet in one arm. I think we stopped the bleeding on both arms."

West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez says the graphic scene was the result of an attempted suicide.

The man, who was in his 50s, is now out of surgery at Citrus Valley Medical Center in West Covina. His limbs are salvaged but his family remains at his side.

Home Depot employees were asked not to talk about the incident with news reporters but the tragic incident came up with customers Thursday.

"Everybody inside was pretty traumatized," said Bob Harris, a Home Depot customer. "The people who were there, some people didn't know whether he was going to live or not and they wouldn't say what happened so I'm thinking God what did happen."

In the meantime, Hurtado says it was just another day on the job for him, despite the fact he was off-duty. He explains he had just finished a 24-hour shift when he and his wife stopped at the Home Depot to pick up supplies for a project at their daughter's home.

When he noticed police responding with medical gear, he offered his help. As routine as his response may have been at the time, the 21-year fire department veteran admitted the experience left him emotional.

"Not because of what I did more because of the grace of God decided to put me there that afternoon," said Hurtado. "I could've picked another Home Depot but God decided for me to go to the one that I hardly ever go to and to be able to possibly help a person save their life."


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