South El Monte girls soccer player and football player lose fingers in a game of tug-of-war

Tuesday afternoon update: Two South El Monte High School students whose fingers were severed during a game of tug-of-war have undergone surgery in an effort to have their digits re-attached, hospital officials said Tuesday.

By Juliette Funes, Staff Writer

SOUTH EL MONTE – An innocent game of tug-of-war turned tragic Monday afternoon when two South El Monte High School students had their fingers severed.

Tug-of-war is a competitive game in which two teams pull, or tug, on a rope in opposite directions in a show of strength.

The students, a boy and a girl, were participating in the lunchtime Spirit Week activity celebrating homecoming when they were injured, El Monte Union High School District Assistant Superintendent Edward Zuniga said. Neither he nor other district officials would release the students’ names or ages.

The girl is a senior and varsity soccer player, while the boy is a football player.

Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Miguel Garcia said firefighters responded at 12:20 p.m. to the school at 1001 Durfee Ave.

“Fingers (were) amputated during some type of tug-of-war,” Garcia said. “They were transported by ambulance to a trauma center.”

The students were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center after their fingers were torn off, Fire Department officials said.

“They are both stable and the parents were by their bedside,” said hospital spokeswoman Rosa Sacca. “They were getting ready to be taken to the operating room to try to re-attach the fingers.”

Authorities didn’t say how many fingers the girl and the boy lost.

It is unknown how many other teens were participating in the tug-of-war, Zuniga said.

“At this point we’re trying to find out more information,” Zuniga said.

It is unclear whether the school or the El Monte Union High School District will change their policies on campus activities.

“We’ll review the activity with district administration,” Zuniga said. “We’re in the early stages. We just want to make sure we have all the facts straight before we talk about changing activities.”

Staff Writer Ruby Gonzales contributed to this story.


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  • Terence Harris

    GREAT GAME ! Looked like a blow out in the beginning with Diamond Bar scoring so fast in the first half but Walnut showed some heart by taking their one two punch and coming back to tie the game. Walnut has really good defenders (so fast) but the team really struggles with courners. Two strong Hacienda League teams – Congrats to DIAMOND BAR – well deserved champions.

  • LadyDons

    My thoughts and prayers to these two athletes. My daughter played soccer with her. She is an amazing player.