Sawed Half in Two, Hes Going to Live

By Staff
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Mr. Richard Spies, buzz-saw victim, and his father, Kenneth Spies, at the Lapeer County General Hospital, in Michigan. See story in this issue.

FROM LAPEER COUNTY (Michigan) PRESS (August 28th, 1958)

TUESDAY MORNING OF last week Richard Spies was cut nearly in two
by the whining blade of a four-foot buzz saw.

Four days later, thanks to the teamwork of four doctors, six
nurses and a laboratory technician, he was able to be given a ride
in a wheelchair and chat with visitors.

The 26-year-old former . Almoner was working in the woods with
his brother, Bill. They had been setting up a sawmill near Bordman
Road in Almont Township. The rig was not in production yet, and
Richard was cleaning out some chips around the blade, which was
running full speed.

‘I don’t now what happened then,’ he recalls.
‘Suddenly the blade caught me and I was tipped into it, head
first.’

The blade went down alongside his right ear, continued through
his chest to the nipple line. In the back it went half way down his
shoulder blade.

He was split as you might saw half a beef in two, said his
doctor, Dr. John Thompson of Lapeer. His chest cavity was cut wide
open.

His brother, Bill, ran for help as soon as the accident
happened. Dick was left alone in the woods. He crawled to a log,
propped himself against it, and held his body together with his
left arm.

It was a three-quarter mile run through the woods to the road,
then four miles more to their father’s place Kenneth Spies.
After calling the ambulance, the father went back with the son.

It was two hours from the time of the accident until he reached
Lapeer County General Hospital. There a team of doctors was
waiting.

He was so near death that the doctor’s didn’t even take
time to move him from the stretcher. They put it down on the floor
of the operating room and worked on. their knees.

In 20 minutes the victim was given a gallon of blood.

‘There was no time to type the blood,’ said Dr.
Thompson. ‘We pumped it to him as fast as we could.’

Dr. Clark Dorland and Dr. Charles Williams then started sewing
the man back together. Helping were Dr. Thompson and Dr. Glenn
Blankenhorn.

Until this time Spies was conscious and was talking with the
doctors. Oddly, he had not been in a great deal of pain until about
the time he got to the hospital. Shock had numbed his senses.

There was little hope at first of saving the arm. But next day
there was still circulation in it, and a little feeling. By
Saturday doctors thought the man might live. This week there was
strong hope of saving the arm.

Friday he will be taken to Ford Hospital where specialists will
re-join the severed nerves. They are optimistic.

‘We’ll save it,’ said Dick, with the same courage
and determination that he has shown since the start.

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