Missouri teen may lose hand after trespassing, taking forklift for joyride

Posted at 1:00 PM, Mar 12, 2019

ST. LOUIS - A 14-year-old Missouri boy is in the hospital, waiting to find out if he'll be able to keep his hand after it was nearly severed in a horrific forklift accident that also injured a 12-year-old.

“I've never, ever, ever seen anything so horrific in my life,” said Sethen Robertson's mother Jayme Ruffner told KTVI.

Ruffner said Sethen and his friend trespassed onto Falling Springs Quarry Sunday night and found a forklift with the keys inside of it. She said Sethen and his friend drove it around for a couple of hours.

Then, Ruffner said, something went terribly wrong.

“It's like living a nightmare and it's something you can't wake up from. He said, 'Mom, I was really scared.  I thought I was going to die.'  He said, 'I didn`t know what was going to happen,'” she said.

Ruffner said the boys were driving downhill to park the forklift exactly where they had found it when Sethen turned the wheel too hard. The forklift immediately started to tip.

Sethen pushed his friend out of the forklift but could not jump to safety, she said. The forklift pinned Sethen's left hand to the ground.

In tremendous pain, Sethen gave his friend his cell phone to call 911.

It took crews about an hour to free him, at which point he was flown to Children's Hospital where he underwent several hours of surgery.

Ruffner said doctors were able to re-attach Sethen's hand, but some tendons could not be saved.

“He has blood flow right now going in and out through his hand," she said. " He still cannot feel anything.  But they say within the first 24 hours they'll know [whether] if it's going to be savable or if they have to take him back into surgery to remove the hand completely.”

Captain Bruce Fleshren of the St. Clair Count Sheriff's Department said charges are possible for the incident.

“Someone said kids will be kids.  It's a little beyond that.  I mean there was other damage on the property done to a work station area, some other equipment.  So, this was beyond just a joyride,” Fleshren said.

Still, things could have ended much worse.

“They're lucky they're still with us,” Fleshren said.

Ruffner said her son has learned some difficult life lessons.

“Even the littlest things you can lose your life over because you think it's fun," she said. "It's not fun.”

Sethen remains hospitalized. His friend was treated for an ankle injury and released.

Authorities said the priority right now is Sethen's health. Charges may come at a later time,

An official at the quarry had no comment except to say that they are praying for the recovery of both children.