Wash. Fisherman Cuts Off Own Fingertips

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By ANNIE FLANZRAICH
The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 26, 2007; 12:52 AM

SEATTLE -- A 51-year-old fisherman whose hand was pinned between his sinking boat and a log could not wait any more for help and decided to cut off two of his fingertips with a pocket knife to free himself, authorities said.

William Messenger cut his fingers just minutes before his future son-in-law, Jarrad Todd, arrived with help and tools, Grays Harbor County Undersheriff Rick Scott said.

"Hindsight is 20-20. If he'd have known help was not that far away, he might have held off taking the steps that he did," Scott said.

Messenger was in satisfactory condition at a Seattle hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. She did not know if surgeons had been able to reattach the fingertips.

Messenger and Todd, 29, were fishing on the Wynoochee River on Sunday when rapids swept their 16-foot drift boat into a log jam. The side of the boat slammed against a log, pinning Messenger's left index and middle fingers. The pressure of the water held the boat in place.

The boat was turned upstream at a 45-degree angle and began to fill with water. Todd escaped and went to a nearby home in Aberdeen for help, Scott said. In the meantime, Scott said, Messenger was straddling the quickly filling boat and began to worry it would sink before Todd returned.


© 2007 The Associated Press

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