There was no reason to calm, or even conscious, but 15-year-old Mike Skinner of Hyattsville said yesterday that he was the most serene member of his family Tuesday during the two hours it took to free his leg, which had been impaled on a neighbor's garden pole.
"I guess I was in shock, because I didn't really feel anything," Skinner said. "They gave me 10 cc's of morphine and it didn't even faze me."
Skinner was feeling more lucky than pained as he recuperated in Prince George's County Hospital yesterday. Only persistent effort by 30 Prince George's firemen and paramedics and expert surgery by a physician, according to witnesses, saved Skinner from a permanently crippling leg injury.
Skinner, of 4402 43rd Ave., was playing kickball with a group of friends in the back yard of a neighbor at 4218 Jefferson St. at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when he tried to jump over a chain link fence into an adjacent yard to retrieve a ball.
He had jumped the four-foot fence many times before, but this time, his foot slipped off the top of the fence. Losing his balance, he fell into his neighbor's garden, where a one-foot steel pipe impaled his leg between the knee and the hip.
Firemen and paramedics were called to the scene, and neighbors and friends gathered to help. But it was more than two hours before the rescuers could move Skinner to a waiting ambulance.
According to Carlos Skinner, Mike's father, firemen were afraid to cut the stake with a hacksaw because the vibrations would have made the injury worse.
Neighbors pitched in to try and dig out the stake, Carlos Skinner said, only to find that it was implanted more than four feet into the ground.
Finally, the stake was cut with a power saw two feet below Skinner's leg, and boy and stake together were taken to Prince George's General Hospital.
After more than two hours of work, Dr. William Holbrook of Cheverley, a vascular surgeon, was able to remove the stake without serious damage to Skinner's leg.
All the while, Mike Skinner was calm. "It was fantastic," said Mrs. David Funkhousen, whose children were playing in the kickball game with Skinner. "The whole time he stayed awake, and was telling people what to do, where to move his leg, where to put pillows under him. he was the only calm one there."
Skinner's parents, who admit they were up all Tuesday night while their son slept quietly, were full of praise yesterday for firemen, Charles O'Neill and John Ransom, who worked at the scene.
"They were just great," said Carlos Skinner. "One of the paramedics (Ransom) even followed us to the hospital and stayed with us until Mike came out of surgery at one in the morning."
Yesterday, Mike Skinner said he felt "only a bruised feeling" in his leg. He said he will stay in the hospital under observation for several days, then return home to rest until his leg is healed.
In the future, he said, "I don't think I'll try to jump over that fence again."