• A group of high school athletes were participating in a school rug-of-war on campus when the rope broke and severed several fingers off of two different students’ hands.
• The students were rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to reattach the fingers.
• Hospital officials said the students were in stable condition following the surgery but did not comment on whether the operations were successful.
The two student athletes — later identified by classmates as Pablo Ocegueda and Edith Rodriguez — were participating in the tug-of-war to boost school spirit, according to El Monte Union High School District Superintendent Nick Salerno.
Somehow the rope broke during the contest and severed multiple fingers from both students’ hands. ABC News reported that both students lost four fingers from their right hands, and Rodriguez, who is senior class president, also lost her left thumb.
The students were rushed to the trauma center at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where they both underwent surgery to reattach their fingers. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the hospital told Reuters that both students were in stable condition. Details on the outcome of the surgery were not available.
Salerno said the school district provided counseling for the victims’ fellow students, many of whom witnessed the horrific accident. The superintendent expressed his condolences to the victims and their families.
“I’m a dad too, and my heart goes out to these kids and their families,” Salerno told Reuters. “To me the whole thing is unbelievable. I’ve been in tug-of-wars myself, more than I can even count, and I’ve never heard anything like this.”
According to ABC News, there have been a number of similar accidents. There were two in 2008, for example, when an 8-year-old girl lost her fingers in a tug-of-war in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, and a boy in Denver nearly severed his arm in a tug-of-war.
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