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Teens in stable condition after fingers severed in tug-of-war

Two South El Monte High School students whose fingers were severed during a game of tug-of-war were in stable condition Tuesday after undergoing surgery to re-attach the fingers, officials said.

The teenagers, a boy and a girl, underwent surgery Monday evening at County-USC Medical Center, said Rosa Saca, a spokeswoman for the hospital. They were both awake and alert Tuesday morning with parents at their bedsides, Saca said after speaking with their nurses.

Saca said she could not comment on the outcomes of the surgeries.

The students, both athletes at the school, were playing the tug-of-war game, in which juniors competed against seniors, during lunchtime Monday as part of Spirit Week festivities celebrating homecoming. The rope broke, and the girl and boy each severed at least one finger.

Counselors were available for students Tuesday, said Nick Salerno, superintendent of the El Monte Union High School District, which includes South El Monte High School.

Students were shocked by the incident and "want to talk about it and share their feelings," Salerno said.

School officials are focusing on counseling students before they begin discussing whether to allow tug-of-war games in the future, he said. Salerno said he was unaware of any other similar accidents at the school.


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