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Man who sawed his arms at Home Depot recovering from surgery

April 12, 2013|By Joseph Serna

A man who walked into a West Covina Home Depot and tried to saw off his arms is recovering from surgery Friday after surgeons managed to save his limbs.

The man, who West Covina police described as being in his 50s, lost a lot of blood and, by Thursday, had not recovered enough to talk, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez said.

West Covina police say the man calmly and quietly walked into Home Depot before 1 p.m. Wednesday and headed to the hardware section where the saws were.

“He walked into the saw area and began cutting both of his arms,” Lopez said earlier. “One was a saw used to cut drywall. He used several saws.”

The man cut both arms down to the bone -– Lopez said there were wounds both above and below the elbow -– as panicked customers called 911 for help.

The man was passing out as officers arrived, police said. 

Authorities credited an off-duty Pasadena fire captain for saving the man's life.

Capt. Art Hurtado, a 21-year veteran with the Pasadena Fire Department, pulled up to the Home Depot shortly after 12:30 p.m. Wednesday when he saw West Covina police officers retrieving medical gloves from three patrol cars.

That’s when the off-duty paramedic jumped into action. Describing the scene at a news conference in Pasadena on Thursday, Hurtado recalled “pandemonium” in the store as officers tried to stop massive bleeding.

The victim, who police have not identified, was face down on the floor and barely breathing when Hurtado said he walked up to find officers trying to stop the bleeding with towels.

That’s when he used rope and twine to create a makeshift tourniquet to stop the heavy flow of blood from wounds that appeared to be inflicted on the lower biceps, above the elbow, Hurtado said.

Pasadena Fire Chief Calvin Wells praised Hurtado, whose action, he said, “resulted in the saving of a life.”

“Firefighters have a duty to act whether they are on or off duty,” he said.

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Twitter: @josephserna

Joseph.serna@latimes.com 

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