Teens recovering after fingers lost in tug-of-war
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A simple length of rope tore off the fingers of two teenagers during a schoolyard tug-of-war staged to boost campus spirit.
The boy and girl had stable vital signs Tuesday after undergoing hours of surgery, but no information was disclosed on whether doctors reattached their fingers.
A get-well banner hung at the South El Monte High School campus, and counselors consoled students after the horrific start Monday to the traditional Spirit Week celebrating homecoming.
Schools have conducted such games for years, El Monte Union High School District Superintendent Nick J. Salerno said.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this happening,” he said. “It’s unbelievable to me, it’s shocking.”
Officials will review all planned Spirit Week activities “that could even possibly have a risk of going wrong,” Salerno said.
The district also plans to review policies to see if any need to be changed regarding tug-of-war games.
The teens lost four fingers each from their right hand, and the girl also lost the thumb on her left hand, Eddie Pickett, a supervising dispatcher with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, told NBC News.
However, sheriff’s Sgt. Jorge Marchena told the Associated Press the girl lost three fingers on one hand and two on another, while the boy lost four fingers from one hand.
The discrepancy could not immediately be resolved.
“They’re awake and alert,” Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center spokeswoman Rosa Sacca said. “Parents are at their bedsides.”
The girl is a senior and varsity soccer player, and the boy is a football player.
The rope was wrapped around the students’ hands, and it snapped, amputating their fingers, Pickett said.
“Our whole focus right now is providing support for the kids,” Salerno said.
No criminal investigation will be done because the injuries were accidental, Marchena said.
“Somehow they got their hands tied up on the rope,” he said.
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