Impaled by Pruning Shears in Eye Socket, Green Valley Man, 86, is Expected to be OK

Leroy Luetscher, 86, of Green Valley, is recovering well after he accidentally impaled himself last month with a pair of pruning shears.
Leroy Luetscher, 86, of Green Valley, is recovering well after he accidentally impaled himself last month with a pair of pruning shears.
Image: University Medical Center, Tucson

Next time some worrywart warns that "you could put an eye out," just scoff and mention the name Leroy Luetscher.

The 86-year-old Green Valley resident managed to prove last month that eye injuries aren't always as bad as they seem -- especially when you have access to the awesome surgeons of Tucson's University Medical Center.

As this incredible photo shows, Luetscher managed to bury one handle of a pair of pruning shears through an eye socket and smack dab into the middle of his head.

The unfortunate accident occurred on July 30 after Luetscher, who was doing some yard work, dropped the shears. The tool's sharp end buried itself into the dirt like a lawn dart, leaving the handles sticking straight up. Luetscher took sort of a pratfall as he bent over to pick them up. He stumbled and fell face-first.

Impaled by Pruning Shears in Eye Socket, Green Valley Man, 86, is Expected to be OK

Upon impact, one of the handles jammed itself into Luetscher's eye socket and slid all the way down to his neck.

From a news release put out today by UMC:

University of Arizona surgeons, including trauma surgeon Julie Wynne, MD, oculoplastic specialist Lynn Polonski, MD, and vascular surgeon Kay Goshima, MD, were able to remove the shears, rebuild his orbital floor with metal mesh, and save his eye.

"You wouldn't believe your eyes," said Dr. Wynne, assistant professor in the UA Department of Surgery. "Half of the pruning shears was sticking out and the other half was in his head."

"You just wonder how the handle of the pruning shears got there. The handle was actually resting on the external carotid artery in his neck," said Dr. Polonski, clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology. "With the help of Dr. Wynne and Dr. Goshima, we decided we could safely remove the pruning shears. We are so happy that Mr. Luetscher did not lose his eye or any vital structures."

All that remains from the July 30 accident is some slight swelling of his upper and lower lids and minor double vision in the affected eye, said Dr. Polonski.

Mr. Luetscher said he knows he is lucky to be alive. "I am so grateful to the doctors and staff at UMC."

Luetscher was later released from the hospital and has been at home recovering, says UMC spokeswoman Janet Stark.

He's scheduled to chat with the media during a news conference at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Tucson facility.

File this one under shear luck.


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