(Adds fire captain comments)
By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES, April 11 An off-duty fire captain
credited with saving a man who cut his own arms down to the bone
with saws at a Los Angeles-area Home Depot store said on
Thursday he initially thought he had come upon a murder scene.
The man, whose has not been identified by authorities, was
listed in critical condition at a hospital after his
self-mutilation on Wednesday at the store in West Covina.
Police have said that Art Hurtado, a captain with the
Pasadena Fire Department, helped to save the man's life.
Hurtado said he happened to be at the store and saw a lot of
blood when he walked up to the man. He fashioned tourniquets
from pieces of rope and towels.
"He was face-down. I thought it was a crime scene with a
fatality, that's how it seemed," Hurtado told reporters gathered
at a Pasadena fire station. He said the man had cut himself
below the biceps.
"There was a pulse, a very faint pulse and he was barely
breathing," Hurtado recalled.
West Covina police spokesman Corporal Rudy Lopez said
Hurtado worked with a police officer who responded to an
emergency call to apply the tourniquets.
"I don't believe that he would have survived had it not been
for the timing and the grace of having (an off-duty) paramedic
there who offered the right kind of advice in saving this man,"
The man had acted like any other customer when he walked
into the Home Depot, until he grabbed several handsaws and began
cutting into his upper limbs, reaching the bone, Lopez said.
Police said it appeared that he had used at least three saws
including one designed to cut drywall.
"The amount of pain that someone has to go through to
continue to use the saw on yourself, to me I just can't fathom
that," Lopez said.
West Covina fire paramedics arrived three minutes after
receiving the emergency call, the city's Fire Chief Rick
Genovese said, and they took the man to Queen of the Valley
The man survived surgery and it appears doctors were able to
save his arms, Lopez said. Police said they have spoken with the
man's family and are trying to determine what caused him to hurt
(Additional reporting by David McNew in Pasadena; Editing by
Scott Malone, Cynthia Osterman and Dan Whitcomb)