Written By: Leah Chester-Davis
Sampson Parker had spent close to 1 ½ hours fighting frantically to free his mangled hand out of a corn picker when he realized he’d have to cut his arm off to escape the fire that had erupted due to sparks hitting dried corn shucks.
Finally free, with blood shooting out the end of his arm and his right leg on fire, he somehow made it to his truck. He knew he had to get help soon. He managed to get the truck in gear and head toward the highway. He waved to people for help but no one would stop.
“I thought, I’ll make ‘em stop so I pulled out crossways in the road and put my truck in park. I turned my air conditioner on high and leaned the seat back and said a little prayer to God, ‘I’ve done all I can do; I’m in your hands now.’”
Several people drove around him, almost in the ditch line to get by. A tractor trailer went by. Sampson was in disbelief that after all he had done to free himself, no one was stopping to help. “Finally, this guy opens up my door and asks me, ‘hey man, are you OK?’ And that was when I raised up what was left of my arm, which at that point was almost bled out.”
Blood had sprayed and splattered all over the dashboard and windshield of his truck. Sampson hadn’t tried to stop the bleeding. Even though he’d had to cut off his arm, he somehow knew he best not look at it. “To be honest, I was scared to look at my arm. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t.”
Good Samaritans to the Rescue
The man who stopped, Doug Spinks, jumped back when he saw Sampson’s arm. “’Hey man, don’t move; I’ll be right back,’” Sampson recalls him saying. It turns out Doug was a volunteer fireman at a fire station in Kershaw. He also was a South Carolina National Guardsman. He had happened to leave work early that day and had thrown a paramedic bag in his car. He rushed back to the passenger side of Sampson’s truck and as he started bandaging his arm he was also talking to the 911 operator and calling for a helicopter to air lift Sampson to the nearest hospital.
“He was having a heck of a time with me,” says Sampson, “and that was when this lady sticks her head in the door. Karen Baker was a nurse and had been sick that day; otherwise she would not have been on the road at that time. She helped keep Sampson calm. When he begged for water, she put water on a paper towel and wiped his forehead. “Both of them knew not to give me water because they knew I would be operated on as soon as I reached the hospital.”
Sampson was near death. Now, as he looks back, it is not lost on him the significance of the two people who stopped to help. Both had first responder or medical training. “God had answered my prayer. He sent the right people at the right time to help me. I mean, it’s just amazing, the two people who stopped. I can’t tell you how many people went by; for these two people to stop, it was a God thing.”
The helicopter was unable to land near Sampson’s truck so he had to be loaded into an ambulance and driven a couple of miles away where he was then airlifted to the hospital in Columbia. After enduring more than 2 hours of excruciating agony, Sampson welcomed the shot of morphine that the flight nurse gave him.
But the trauma for Sampson and his family wasn’t over.
In the last of the 4-part series on Sampson Parker, read about his road to recovery and how his epic survival story captured the attention of people worldwide.
(This series about Sampson Parker’s fight for survival is part of a broader series on Farm Safety. It includes the stories of two other farmers, Corey Lutz, of Lincoln County, and Lewis Phipps, of Alleghany County.)