Iowa Hill pulls for amputee logger Man who cut leg free from tree trunk 'in good spirits'
By: Penne Usher, Journal Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
IOWA HILL - In one of the most remote locations in Placer County with no electricity, no telephones and spotty cellular service, a tight-knit community voiced concern and hope Tuesday that one of their own will survive.
Al Hill, 66, had reportedly been cutting trees on a property near the Big Dipper Mine Friday when a huge tree fell on his left leg, pinning him underneath, officials said. After hours of anguish and pain, alone in the woods and perhaps fearful for his life, Hill amputated his own leg below his left knee with pocket knives.
Cathy Morgan works at the one-room schoolhouse in Iowa Hill. She said she's lived in the area for 22 years and once worked for Hill, who in 1987 owned the town's only store.
"I was in the store when they called the fire department (Friday)," she said. "We were real worried because (Hill) has diabetes."
Luana Dowling, the Iowa Hill fire chief, said the call for help came in around 7:30 p.m., more than 10 hours after the tree is believed to have fallen on Hill, which officials estimated to be around 8:30 a.m. He had his cell phone with him, but in the remote area, with no telephone or cellular phone service, Hill couldn't call for assistance.
It was Eric Bookey who heard Hill's cries for help.
Bookey said Tuesday outside his Iowa Hill home that he was uncomfortable discussing the event without first speaking with Hill.
However, he did say that he was in the proximity of Big Dipper when he heard a cry for help. Bookey waited and heard the plea again. It was then that he was able to locate Hill.
"Only me, Al and God were there that day," he said.
Bookey and a neighbor loaded Hill into a truck to expedite his transport to medical care. Hill was then taken by air ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center where he underwent amputation surgery.
Betty "Charlie" Gilcrest lives near where the accident occurred. She recently visited Hill in the hospital.
She said he was alert and in "good spirits."
"I live just up the hill and I didn't hear him," she said. "We're all glad Eric (Bookey) was there."
Hill's family politely declined to comment for the story.