IOWA HILL, Calif. - Residents are pulling for a neighbor who was forced to amputate his left leg below the knee using pocket knives after a tree fell on him, pinning him for about 11 hours.
Al Hill, 66, was cutting trees on a property near the Big Dipper Mine last Friday when a tree fell on his leg and trapped him, authorities said. Alone in the woods and in an area where cellular phone service is spotty or nonexistent, Hill was forced to take the extreme measure to save himself.
Eventually, a neighbor in the area heard Hill's cries for help. Eric Bookey declined to talk about the events.
"Only me, Al and God were there that day," he said.
Bookey had to go nearly two miles to get a cellular signal and make an emergency call, which came in to the all-volunteer fire department about 7:30 p.m., Iowa Hill Fire Chief Luana Dowling told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Bookey and a neighbor loaded Hill into a truck and took him to an emergency landing site in town, where a helicopter met them and took him to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where he underwent amputation surgery, Dowling said.
She said it was hard to believe Hill didn't go into shock.
"He's a pretty remarkable person," Dowling said.
News of Hill's ordeal has captivated this tiny town about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, where there is no electricity and few services for the roughly 200 residents.
"I was in the store when they called the fire department," said Cathy Morgan, who works in Iowa Hill's one-room schoolhouse. "We were real worried because (Hill) has diabetes."
Betty "Charlie" Gilcrest lives near the accident site but said she didn't hear Hill's cries for help. She said she has visited him in the hospital, where he was alert and in good spirits.
"We're all glad Eric (Bookey) was there," she said.