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May 20, 2016

Paramedics, cops save man after he cut his own throat

By Jesse Leavenworth
The Hartford Courant

MANCHESTER, Conn. — Police officers and medics saved the life of a man who slashed his own throat after being confronted about an attempted theft at Wal-Mart, police spokesman Capt. Christopher Davis said Thursday.

The 44-year-old man was in stable condition at Hartford Hospital, Davis said. He said he would not identify the man because he has not been arrested and the investigation is continuiing.

There is no doubt, however, that by their quick arrival and decisive actions on Wednesday afternoon, police officers and emergency medical personnel saved the man from bleeding to death, Davis said.

The call about a shoplifter with a self-infliclted wound came in at 1:34 p.m., and Officer Wilmary Labonte was on the scene in about three minutes, Davis said. When she arrived at the store's loss prevention office, Labonte said, security staff had left the man alone in the tiny loss prevention office and called police after seeing him cut himself.

A guard had approached the man after he changed the price tag on a vacuum cleaner and tried to buy it at the lower price, Davis said. As he was being questioned in the office, Davis said, the man took a folding knife from his pocket and slashed his throat deeply.

When she arrived, Labonte said the man was alone inside the office. She called out the first name a security guard had given her and could see the man slumped in a chair with the knife still in his hand and a growing puddle of blood around him. He did not respond.

"That was the scary part," she said. "There were a lot of things running through my head."

She reached out and snatched the knife, which had an approximately four-inch-long blade, and threw it, Labonte said. She then ripped some paper towels from a roll and pressed them on the gaping wound. Officer Jason Wagner arrived soon after.

"I can't even describe how much blood there was on the floor," Wagner said.

Seeing that the paper towels would not stop the bleeding, Labonte grabbed a shirt hanging in the office and held it on the wound. Wagner said he wrapped the thermal-type shirt around the man's neck and tied it while helping Labonte keep pressure on the gaping cut. The man never said a word, but he did open his eyes at one point, Wagner said. Officer Bernie Hallums, who arrived after Wagner, described the scene as "very horrific." Hallums said Labonte's actions were key in saving the man's life.

Paramedics with the Eighth Utilities District and the town Fire/Rescue/EMS Department arrived, but they could not get a stretcher in the small office, Wagner said. So the police officers continued to apply pressure while the man was moved to a stretcher outside the office door, he said. Medics then treated the man and prepared him for transport to the hospital.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service
©2016 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)


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