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Man Cuts Off Own Leg to Save Life

October 7, 1993

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ A physician’s assistant used a pocket knife to cut off his own leg after a boulder fell on him during a fishing trip Wednesday, authorities said.

William Jeracki, 38, of Conifer, used a tourniquet to slow the blood flow, amputated his left leg at the knee, then crawled half a mile to his truck, and drove another half-mile for help, authorities said.

″I looked at the way he cut his leg off, it was obviously a surgical procedure, it wasn’t just hacking at it, and may be what contributed to saving his life,″ said Jack Russalesi, a paramedic who was among the first to give aid to the man.

Rescuers found the lower leg, packed it in ice, and flew it to University Hospital in Denver along with Jeracki.

Jeracki was in serious but stable condition after surgery. Doctors did not try to reattach the limb because too much time had elapsed before the limb was retrieved, said hospital spokeswoman Rosanna Webb.

Jeracki, a physicians’s assistant at the Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, was fishing alone at St. Mary’s Glacier 30 miles west of Denver. He was scrambling up a boulder field when a large rock dislodged. As clouds started to gather, he started to worry about bad weather.

″He got to the point where he was more concerned about his life than about his limb,″ said Dr. David Cionni.

In July, a 37-year-old construction worker amputated his own leg in a Pennsylvania forest to free himself from a fallen tree.

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