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NC: Amputation after hunting accident

After hunting accident, Mount Holly man not letting amputation slow him down

June 06, 2011

Nearly a month after both of Darrell Rucker’s legs had been amputated above the knee, he still didn’t realize it.

The same hunting accident that necessitated the life-changing surgery had left the 67-year-old Mount Holly man in a coma for three and a half weeks.


Rucker soon joined a Mount Holly hunt club. On Oct. 8, 2009, he made plans to go hunting with a friend on a 2,500-acre tract in South Carolina. When his friend developed a stomach ache, the two decided that Rucker would venture into the woods alone and the friend would join him after awhile when he felt better.

Rucker drove into the wilderness and selected a tree to ascend. But as he was climbing the trunk, the top part of the tree stand broke. The bottom part caught his body, leaving him dangling 20 feet in the air by his legs, upside down. He couldn’t get free.

The stomach ache that had delayed Rucker’s friend turned out to be appendicitis, meaning no one would be coming behind him. Rucker had his cell phone, but initially didn’t have a signal. So he was left to hang there. And wait.

“I was in pain for several hours. Then I sort of got numb,” he said. “It was getting dark. So I pulled the cell phone out of my bib overall pocket again, and it had a signal.”


The precarious way in which Rucker was hanging for 24 hours prevented blood from circulating beyond the tops of his legs. Physicians determined amputation was the only option, because of the length of time that circulation had been cut off.


Rucker suffered kidney damage as a result of his accident that has forced him to go on dialysis. He has been on the kidney transplant list now for three months and hopes someone will emerge to help him. 

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