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Man who sawed own arms at California store in critical condition

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A sign outside The Home Depot store is pictured in Monrovia, California August 13, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
A sign outside The Home Depot store is pictured in Monrovia, California August 13, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A man who used handsaws at a Los Angeles-area Home Depot store to saw his own arms to the bone was recovering in a hospital on Thursday in critical condition after quick work by rescuers, police said.

The individual, whose name has not been released following his self-mutilation on Wednesday, survived a surgery and it appears doctors were able to save his arms, said West Covina police spokesman Corporal Rudy Lopez. It was unclear what spurred the man to take the action.

The man, who is about 50 years old, walked into a Home Depot store in West Covina and acted like any other customer until he grabbed several handsaws and began cutting into his upper limbs, Lopez said. Panicked customers called 911, he said.

It appeared he used at least three saws, including one designed to cut drywall, police said.

"The amount of pain that someone has to go through to continue to use the saw on yourself, to me I just can't fathom that," Lopez said.

An off-duty fire official with a paramedic background from nearby Pasadena was at the store and went to the aisle where the man was bleeding. He worked with a police officer, who arrived within minutes of the emergency call, to apply improvised tourniquets they made from twine or rope, Lopez said.

"I don't believe that he would have survived had it not been for the timing and the grace of having (an off-duty) paramedic there who offered the right kind of advice in saving this man," Lopez said.

The wounded man passed out as he was losing a "tremendous" amount of blood, in fact so much that an officer at the scene was surprised the individual was still alive, Lopez said.

West Covina fire paramedics arrived three minutes after receiving the emergency call, said the city's Fire Chief Rick Genovese.

Once there, they took over life-saving efforts and transported the man to Queen of the Valley Hospital, he said.

Police have talked to the man's family and are seeking to determine what led him to saw his arms, Lopez said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)

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