Los Angeles News

2 South El Monte students lose multiple fingers during tug-of-war

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

An investigation is under way after two local high school students lost their fingers in a game of tug-of-war.

The incident occurred at lunchtime South El Monte High School at 1001 Durfee Ave. around 12:20 p.m. Monday.

Witnesses said the students, identified by classmates as Pablo Ocegueda and Edith Rodriguez, were taking part in the Spirit Week activity contest when the rope snapped. Ocegueda and Rodriguez both lost four fingers on their right hand. Rodriguez, the senior class president, also lost the thumb on her left hand.

"Everybody just started freaking out and then I just saw my friend, Pablo, his fingers were gone," said student Vincent Canales. "Everybody was just shocked and crying."

They were rushed to the trauma center at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center where they both underwent surgery to reattach their fingers. Hospital officials would not say whether the surgeries were successful, but they said the students were awake and alert in stable condition.

While the incident is bizarre, it is not unheard of. In 2008, an 8-year-old girl in Robbinsdale, Minn. had her fingers severed during a tug-of-war contest. Later in 2008, a boy in Denver nearly severed his arm in a tug-of-war game. Fortunately, he had his arm reattached.

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