Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Case of Preston Hughes III: Pools of Blood

Last Wednesday, my sister awoke in a pool of her own blood. She was on the kitchen floor. It occurred to her she had been shot. It occurred to her she was going to die.

Assuming the Houston police are honest in their reporting, Shandra Charles long ago awoke in a pool of her own blood. I assume it occurred to her she was going to die.

Less than five months after Shandra's carotid artery had been severed by a knife, Clint Malarcuk found himself looking into a pool of his own blood. His carotid artery had severed by the skate of an opposing hockey player. The video is a must if you want to understand this case.

Malarcuk assumed he was going to die. "All I wanted to do was get off the ice. My mother was watching the game on TV, and I didn't want her to see me die."

Ten years after Shandra's carotid artery had been severed, Richard  Zednik found himself laying in a pool of his own blood. His carotid had also been severed by the skate of a fellow hockey player. Again, the video is a must. Suck it up and watch.

Here's a still shot of the blood trail.

Of the four people just mentioned who found themselves in a pool of their own blood, only one did not survive.
My sister had collapsed because her insulin pump had injected too much insulin. She now remembers seeing her blood sugar level as being 20 something. She remembers nothing after that. Her recording monitor showed that her blood sugar level had dropped to 27. The glass on the kitchen table showed that she saved her own life by reacting quickly. She managed to down a glass of orange juice before she collapsed. The injuries to her face showed that she struck the table as she fell to the floor.
Clint Malarchuk survived because he received immediate and professional first aid.
During a game on March 22, 1989, between the visiting St. Louis Blues and Malarchuk's Buffalo Sabres, Steve Tuttle of the Blues and Uwe Krumpp of the Sabres became entangled while chasing the puck and crashed into Malarchuk's goal. Tuttle's skate caught Malarchuk on the neck, severing his carotid artery. 
With pools of blood collecting on the ice, Malarchuk left the ice on his own feet with the assistance of his team's athletic trainer, Jim Pizzutelli. Many spectators were physically sickened by the sight. Local television cameras covering the game cut away from the sight of Malarchuk bleeding after realizing what had happened. 
Malarchuk, meanwhile, believed he was going to die. "All I wanted to do was get off the ice", said Malarchuk. "My mother was watching the game on TV, and I didn't want her to see me die." Aware that his mother had been watching the game on TV, he had an equipment manager call and tell her he loved her. Then he asked for a priest. 
Malarchuk's life was saved by the team's trainer, Jim Pizzutelli, a former Army medic who had served in Vietnam. He reached into Malarchuk's neck and pinched off the bleeding, not letting go until doctors arrived to begin suturing the wound. Still, Malarchuk came within minutes of becoming only the third fatality to result from an on-ice injury in NHL history after Howie Morenz (1937) and Bill Masterson (1968). It was estimated that if the skate had hit 1/8 inch (3 mm) higher on Malarchuk's carotid, he would have been dead within two minutes. In the dressing room and on the way to the hospital, doctors spent 90 minutes and used over 300 stitches to close the wound. It was also said that had the incident occurred at the other end of the ice, Malarchuk would have died - the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium had the locker room exits at one end of the ice instead of the normal location behind the benches, and he was at that end.
Richard Zednik also survived because of prompt first aid.
On February 10, 2008, in a game between the Florida Panthers and the Buffalo Sabres, teammate Olli Jokinen, while tripping over the leg of Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur, cut Zedník's external carotid artery with his right skate blade. Zedník immediately skated to the Florida bench, leaving a trail of blood on the ice. He was immediately attended to by Florida trainer Dave Zenobi (along with all medical personnel in the arena) who took him to the locker room for treatment until emergency medical personnel arrived at HSBC Arena. Zedník underwent surgery that night starting at 9:00, his status being published as stable after leaving the arena. The game was delayed for more than 20 minutes as the zamboni was needed to help clean the blood from the ice.
Shandra Charles received no first aid. Instead, the first two officers on the scene gave CPR to Marcell Taylor, who was already dead. The next officer elected to interview her rather than save her. After interviewing her, he simply sat beside her and awaited the ambulance. An unknown individual stood nearby and sipped a beverage.
As I have now said twice before, there is little about this case that is not heartbreaking sad.
I came across the hockey videos as I researched the chances of surviving a severed carotid. I've spent perhaps six hours today with that research. I'll provide details in my next post. The information will allow us to narrow the time of the attack, and Marcell's time of death. That will bring us one step closer to understanding this case.
For now I'll leave you with a summary. A person can survive a severed carotid artery if that person receives timely first aid. Otherwise, the person will die quickly, in a pool of their own blood.

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