Farmer amputates his own leg after it's caught in machinery: 'I guess I'm stubborn'

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By Minyvonne Burke

Nebraska farmer Kurt Kaser was working when he found himself in a terrifying situation.

His leg got stuck in a piece of farm equipment as Kaser was unloading corn. Alone and realizing he had to quickly make a decision, Kaser used a pocketknife to amputate his own leg to free himself.

“I thought for sure I would pass out, and somehow something told me to keep going,” he told NBC News in a phone interview Tuesday of the accident that occurred near the end of April. “I did what I thought I had to do, and it worked.”

Kaser, 63, said he was moving corn on his farm in Pender when he stepped into a corn hopper and his foot and the bottom half of his leg became stuck in the machine, which was still running.

He said his family was not home and he knew it would be a while before anyone arrived at the farm.

After he tried to free himself but couldn’t, he grabbed a pocketknife he was carrying and cut his leg free.

“I could feel it cutting nerves,” Kaser said. “Finally, it let go, and then I started crawling to the house.”

The entire ordeal lasted about five minutes, but Kaser sounded sanguine about it and the loss of the bottom half of his leg.

“I look at other people that were [at the hospital] and I still have most of my leg and hope to walk again soon,” he said. “There’s a lot of people in those places that’s in a wheelchair and they will never walk again. … You got to think of that.”

When asked how he has been able to remain positive about the situation, Kaser joked that it’s because of his headstrong ways.

“I guess I’m stubborn. I don’t want to give up,” he said.

After he cut himself free from the corn hopper, Kaser crawled to his house about 150 feet away and called 911. He was rushed to a hospital and later airlifted to another hospital where his daughter works.

After a week at the hospital and another two weeks at a rehabilitation facility, he was released Friday.

Kaser said his recovery process has been painful, but he is determined to walk again. The married father of three grown children said he has been meeting with doctors to determine when he can get a prosthetic leg.

“I like to be out and about and I know I will be,” he said.

The incident may remind some moviegoers of a scene in the 2010 film “127 Hours.” James Franco plays real-life adventurer Aron Ralston, who became trapped in a southeastern Utah canyon when a boulder fell on his arm. After spending days trapped in the canyon, Ralston freed himself by amputating his arm.