Talk about a pain in the neck! Is it possible to imagine a more painful death than being ripped to shreds by a chainsaw? Perhaps the answer to that question is the reason why chainsaws have been used as murder weapons in such films as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Scarface. The simple sound of a motor on such a device is enough to make an audience member cringe in their seat. In a real-life horror story, a Pennsylvania man was nearly killed this past week when the blade of a chainsaw found its way into his neck and almost severed his carotid artery.
21-year old James Valentine was one centimeter away from death on Monday March 31 when the blade of his chainsaw cut deep into his neck and shoulder. Valentine, who works for Adler Tree Service in a town called Gibsonia, was literally up a tree while attempting to make an unorthodox cut. Apparently, Valentine was using the chainsaw at an irregular angle as a way to avoid damaging some power lines. Before he knew it, he’d become the victim instead of the tree.
“I felt the injury and shut the saw off. The chainsaw was in me and still running. I saw the blood,” James recalled. Perhaps one of the most daunting tasks to ever face a group of paramedics was carefully deconstructing the saw without causing further injury. James’ coworkers had left the saw alone in order to minimize blood loss. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance workers continued to hold the blade delicately in place. Although Valentine remained conscious during the ordeal, it was not clear whether the nearly fatal blow would ultimately kill the Pennsylvania man.
With not much time to prepare for the incoming chainsaw victim, the staff at Allegheny General Hospital went to work, toot suite, removing the blade, stopping the blood loss and stitching up the wound. Director of the hospital’s trauma unit, Dr. Christine Toevs, said that there was only a 10-minute window of time for preparation before Valentine arrived. According to Toevs, the trauma unit always assumes the worst-case scenario and “expects the injuries to be catastrophic.”
It may be time for Mr. Valentine to consider playing the lottery, as the man’s luck could not have been any more impressive. Somehow, the blade of the chainsaw missed vital areas by less than one inch. Toevs explained that had the blade struck “an inch in either direction,” James Valentine might not have been so fortunate. His injuries claimed some muscle and tissue but did not affect his main carotid artery or any other major organs.
Although Pennsylvania tree service worker Valentine was nearly killed by a chainsaw on Monday, he has already begun the process of recovery – which should, miraculously, only take less than a week. Even more astonishing, is Valentine’s plan to return to work as soon as he has healed enough. The man’s sister was recently quoted as saying: “James looks more like himself, he’s walking and talking today… we can’t believe it at all.” Well, who could?
Opinion by Josh Taub