Survivalists

It’s often difficult — when we are incessantly enmeshed in the nastiness of modern politics, bombarded with news from the criminal world and confronted with self-serving actions of many corporate leaders, celebrities and athletes — to remember that human beings have a capacity to inspire, amaze and transcend the tedium of day-to-day life.

Two examples this week come from the south of us.

The most recent involved Montrose logger John Hutt, who cut off his toes with a pocket knife to free his foot from where it was pinned between parts of trucking equipment.

Hutt told The Daily Sentinel’s William Woody that he cursed loudly after a trailer on his logging truck slipped and clamped his toes, vice-like, between two pieces of heavy steel. Then he screamed for help until he realized none was forthcoming. Finally, he contemplated his prospects for about 30 minutes — alone in the mountains off Dallas Divide, with no cell phone and the likelihood he would pass out and fall if he did nothing.

Hutt decided amputating his toes was the best option. He completed the surgery, then wrapped his foot in a shirt, and he drove his truck until he could get help.

It is an amazing story of one person’s will to survive and his ability to withstand pain. Although it didn’t last as long, it rivals the account of Aron Ralston, who cut off his arm after it became trapped between rocks in Utah’s backcountry. It is also a story that makes us wonder whether we would have the fortitude to perform such gruesome surgery on ourselves in order to stay alive.

Max Schuetz’s story is less cringe-inducing, but in many ways more inspiring. Max is the 7-year-old Ridgway youngster who has survived two life-threatening bouts with leukemia.

Max was the subject of a parade and celebration in Ridgway last Saturday because he has undergone a stem-cell transplant and appears to be on his way to a more healthy life. Through all his health problems, his mother and friends say, he remained upbeat and sought diversion from his troubles through storybook fantasies.

Max Schuetz and John Hutt are two recent examples of people with indomitable spirit that allowed them to survive dangerous, potentially lethal events. But they are far from the only ones.

We all know of other people whose determination helped them to survive — or helped others to survive — things like disease, war, terror attacks, emotional setbacks and other obstacles.

People like John, Max and others whom readers may know are worth remembering and celebrating when we seem overwhelmed with news of more depressing human activities.


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