The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

October 28, 2013

Man recalls Halloween accident that cut off hand

LA PORTE CITY, Iowa (AP) — When the razor-sharp edge of the falling locust tree's trunk caught up with Roger Batchelder at 11 a.m. last Halloween, his right hand came clean off midway up his forearm.

There wasn't much blood, according to Roger's wife, Patty, maybe a cup pooled in the sleeve of her husband's hoody. Neither was there much pain, according to Roger, who does recall the feeling of his arm bones being crushed under the tree's weight.

"It never did hurt," Roger told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier ( "I can't figure it out."

A year has passed since his hand was severed and subsequently reattached. A grim tale, Roger, 75, has gotten better at telling it. Because of a winning, if slightly dark, sense of humor, the violence of that day is easier to recount.

"I've told it enough times, I don't freak out when I tell it anymore. The first time around it was hard for me to tell it."

Hard because Roger remembers the lead up to the grisly moment vividly.

He had just finished a diagonal cut through the trunk of a locust tree on his farm in La Porte City. Patty saw it all happen from her seat in the truck just a short distance away.

The tree began to fall, but in the wrong direction. The hard point of the severed trunk slid down the stump, driving straight at Roger's chest like a massive spear. He tossed the chainsaw and moved to get out of the way but snagged his foot in a hole.

The heavy trunk whooshed past, taking Roger's hand with it. The hand hung loosely from the sleeve of his sweatshirt. Roger tried to grab it but it fell out.

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