This Nebraska Farmer Had to Amputate His Own Leg to Save His Life

nebraska farmer
A grain auger loads a truck with grain.Auscape/UIG / Getty Images

Adventurers and rock climbers aren’t the only ones whose jobs involve facing life-or-death situations, and Nebraska farmer Kurt Kaser discovered that firsthand when he found himself stuck inside a grain auger on his farm on April 19. Kaser was using the auger (a long tube with a turning screw inside) to move grain between two bins when he accidentally stepped inside the machine and it began to tear apart his leg, the Omaha World-Herald reports. Alone on the 1,500-acre property without his cell phone, he couldn’t call for help, so he pulled out his three-inch pen knife and amputated his leg to free himself.

“I didn’t know what to do,” he told the World-Herald on Tuesday. “I was afraid it was going to suck me in more.”

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Despite watching the machine claw away his foot and lower leg, he kept calm and began to cut through the remaining muscle and tissue that was trapping him inside the auger.

“It’s hard to describe,” he said. “You want to survive and you do what you need to do to survive, I guess.”

He sawed through nearly an inch of his own flesh before freeing himself, then crawled about 200 feet to reach the nearest phone. He called his son, Adam, a member of the local rescue team. Adam arrived and transported his father into town, where he was flown to a hospital for treatment. He spent a week there and two weeks in rehab before returning home on Friday.

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Once his leg heals, Kaser will receive a prosthetic. He should be able to walk again, and he plans to return to farming his land.

“Everybody says, ‘You seem so upbeat about it,’ ” he told the World-Herald, noting that other patients he met in rehab will use wheelchairs for the rest of their lives. “What they’ve got is what they are. I know I will be walking again.”

Reflecting on the ordeal, he also offered a word of advice to other farmers (and anyone else facing potentially dangerous situations): Take it slow.

“I was in a hurry and didn’t pay attention,” he said. “Farmers, we’re all guilty of it, but we don’t stop and think. We get in too big a hurry.”

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