5-year-old girl severs finger on playground

June 10, 1994|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Sun Staff Writer

A 5-year-old girl lost part of a little finger yesterday in a freak jungle gym accident on the playground of her South Baltimore elementary school.

Kelly Champ's left pinkie was partially severed and stuck for more than an hour in a small hole on the climbing equipment's central pole. She was freed only after a doctor completed the amputation at the first joint behind the fingernail, officials said.

"She was a brave little girl," said Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, a city fire department spokesman, describing Kelly's ordeal on the playground of Carter Godwin Woodson Elementary in Cherry Hill.

Firefighters used cold packs to numb Kelly's hand and covered her with a blanket to keep sparks away as they cut through sections of the compact jungle gym, trying to keep the finger intact or keep it from falling inside the pole, he said.

She was flown by a state police MedEvac helicopter to Union Memorial Hospital. The fingertip was recovered from the hole in the pole and reattached by a surgeon, Dr. Keith Segalman, at the hospital's hand center.

Kelly was sent home late in the day, her hand and lower arm bandaged and resting in a sling. Whether the fingertip "takes" will not be known for a week or so, said hospital spokeswoman Barbara A. Hoey.

Chief Torres said the accident happened about 1 p.m. as Kelly was climbing down, and her finger slipped into a hole in a central supporting pole of the multisection jungle gym. Just then, the weight of children playing above her caused the top section to shift and mangle the finger.

"It's a tiny little hole," the spokesman said. "If her finger had been a little fatter, it wouldn't have gotten in there."

City schools spokeswoman Donna Franks said the jungle gym (( was "found to be in good order with no defects" at its annual inspection on May 28.

But in the wake of Kelly's accident, Ms. Franks said, all city schools will be notified today to discontinue use of that type of jungle gym "until we determine whether it is safe."

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