By Jory Rand
NORTH HUNTINGDON (KDKA) — One year ago, a local high school soccer star nearly lost his hand and his life in a freak accident.
Jay Jarrett is a senior at Norwin High School and was doing some work one day with a log splitter.
“One piece of wood got stuck down by the blade of the log splitter,” he said, “and I shut the machine off to get the piece of wood out. “
When he did so, the front pocket on his sweatshirt caught the lever of the machine, turning the splitter back on.
“It sawed,” he said, “cutting into my hand.”
Jay’s hand was trapped in the blade of the machine. Somehow, he kept his wits, and using his other hand, flipped the blade to reverse.
“It was just instant action,” he said. “My body pretty much took over and did it for me.”
His hand now free, Jay quickly saw how bad the damage was.
“My pinky was hanging on by a thread,” he said. “I knew I had to get help quick, or it wouldn’t turn out good.”
Help, though, was a ways off. Jay’s two friends were working about a quarter mile away — one on a lawnmower, the other with a weed whacker. Neither could hear Jay’s calls for help. He was going to have to go to them, or risk bleeding to death.
“I ran up a hill and got my two buddies,” he said. “They called an ambulance, and they wrapped it with a tight towel and kept it wrapped until the ambulance got there.”
Jay spent six hours in surgery, doctors putting his mangled hand back together. Even then there were no guarantees.
“After the first surgery, the doctor wasn’t sure I’d have full use,” Jay said. “And then he was talking about amputating it.”
Jay’s mother, Jan, remembers the day all too well.
“Once we got him to the hospital, we knew he would live,” she said, “but we didn’t think he was [going to] have a hand, to be honest.”
Soccer soon became an afterthought, at least in everyone’s mind but Jay’s. Because even after strict warnings from doctors that exercise of any kind could cause further damage to his hand, Jay was ready to prepare for his senior season on the soccer team.
“I remember one day my dad came into my room and I was doing sit-ups and got yelled at because I wasn’t cleared to do any exercise,” he recalled.
“He was doing sit-ups two days after we got home from the hospital,” his mother said. “And the surgeon was like, ‘No that’s not a good idea.’ He’s really a hard worker.”
That hard work helped Jay through the months of therapy, the additional surgeries. Finally, Jay was cleared for soccer in time to captain his Norwin team, leading the Knights in scoring.
“It was really hard,” his mom said. “I could cry now. It was amazing seeing him out there playing and he missed his whole spring team, but when we first saw him walk out as the captain, it was amazing.”
And now Jay has a pretty amazing story to tell.
“The most famous question is, ‘How bad did it hurt?’,” he said. “The answer is always, ‘A lot. ‘”