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A man cut his arms to the bone with handsaws at a California home improvement store and was found in a pool of blood, authorities said.
Pasadena fire Capt. Art Hurtado was among horrified shoppers in the aisle Wednesday. He was shopping with his wife on his day off and jumped in to help.
Hurtado and his wife, Isabelle, saw West Covina police officers rush to the man, and he joined them.
"The officers had already found a man face down," Hurtado said, "and the whole store is in chaos."
"People just couldn’t believe it," added West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez. “He walked into the saw area, picked up a couple of saws in the saw area and started cutting both of his arms.”
Hurtado said that as soon as he noticed the first saw, he "thought it was just going to be a crime scene and a fatality."
Without gloves or any equipment, the 21-year fire department veteran began working on the victim.
"He was just barely breathing," Hurtado said.
But Hurtado kept trying, using what was on the store shelves around him.
"I can save this guy, if I engage, that’s what we do," he said.
"I started asking for a lot of towels," Hurtado added. "They finally showed up with a large packet of quarter-inch rope, nylon rope. And I ripped it open and just stretched it out, and I told the police officer I want 24-inch sections. Just start cutting."
Lopez said the man used several handsaws — including one that is used to cut drywall — to cut "all the way down to the bone."
"It was a godsend," Lopez said. "He happened to be at the right place at the right time, probably saved his life."
It was all in a day’s work, to Hurtado.
"Were we in a good place for it? No, but you improvise," he said. "You make things do. Like I said, if I didn’t have rope, I would have used my shoelaces. We would have made it work."
Home Depot told NBC Los Angeles in a statement that it will cooperate with law enforcement's investigation. The victim remained in surgery late Wednesday.
This story was originally published on Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:12 AM EDT