Man faced unthinkable choice when he had to decide whether to cut off his own arm to save his life
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A brave South Carolina farmer was faced with the agonising prospect of cutting off his own arm to save his life - or to be burnt alive.
On one Tuesday afternoon in 2007, Sampson Parker was stood in a cornfield going about his daily routine on the farm.
Near him was a rusty old corn picker, which nearly took his life. Watch below:
Parker had been harvesting corn that day when some stalks got stuck in the machine.
After reaching in the still-running corn picker to pull the stalks out, his hand suddenly became trapped.
He was stuck in the machine for over an hour and there was no help in sight.
Parker reached for an iron bar to jam into a chain-and-sprocket that drove the rollers, but to no avail, he started to cut his own fingers off to free himself.
But before he could do that, the sprocket grinding against the rod threw off sparks that set the ground litter on fire.
He was just a moment away from being burnt alive.
Parker says he was left with no choice but to saw his whole arm off with a pocketknife in order to survive.
“My skin was melting,” he told a local NBC affiliate. “It was dripping off my arm like melting plastic.
“I told myself, I’m not going to die here,” he told Lauer. “I kept fighting, kept praying.
“Really, the only pain that I felt was when I felt the nerves ... I could feel the nerves as I was cutting my arm off there.”
In the end, Parker was actually grateful for this fire from keeping him from passing out.
“If it hadn’t been for the fire, I would have lost my life,” he said.
After using the force of his own weight to break the bone and free him from the machine, a tire exploded on the corn picker, and the force of it threw him back about five feet.
“When I did get loose, I jumped up running, blood spurting from my arm,” Parker said.
He somehow managed to get in his pickup truck to drive out on the highway, to search for help.
With no-one willing to stop, Parker was forced to pull over into the middle of the road.
Just by chance, Doug Spinks drove up and stopped.
He happened to be a first-responder who was able to deal with all sorts of emergencies.
“His skin was very gray, which shows a large loss of blood,” said Spinks. “I was very, very scared that I wasn’t going to be able to save him.”
After a rescue helicopter was called in to take him to a hospital, he spent three weeks in a burn center before returning home to his wife and three children, aged 31, 26 and 18, at the time.
“It really wasn't the corn picker’s fault, it was my fault,” Parker said. “It’s just a mistake I made by what I did. I stuck my hand where I shouldn't.”
Parker was eventually fitted with a prosthetic arm.