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Former South El Monte High Students Sue Over Tug-Of-War That Severed Their Fingers

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(credit: Pete Demetriou/KNX1070/CBS)

(credit: Pete Demetriou/KNX1070/CBS)

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two former South El Monte High School student athletes are suing the El Monte Union High School District after a senior tug-of-war event severed several of their fingers.

The plaintiffs, Pablo Ocegueda and Edith Rodriguez, were seniors at the time they took part in a Spirit Week activity during lunch to celebrate homecoming on Feb. 4, 2013. According to the lawsuit, Ocegueda, a football player, and Rodriguez, a soccer player, had their fingers torn off by the rope they were holding during the activity.

The rope was tied with a slip knot that created a loop near the middle, according to the lawsuit. Ocegueda and Rodriguez were allowed to grab the knot “in clear sight of teachers and faculty members who were supposed to be supervising the event and keeping the student safe. They were allowed to place their hands in grave danger without any interference by any faculty member,” the lawsuit states.

After the tug-of-war began, the knot slipped and pulled the plaintiffs’ hands into it, causing their injuries, according to the lawsuit.

The former students filed their lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that the incident would not have happened had school officials properly supervised the event. They also allege the district has no general plan for monitoring students involved in the tug-of-war.

The former students are seeking unspecified damages.

Students the ages of Ocegueda and Rodriguez often have a “herd instinct” and “competitive spirit” that causes them to relax their vigilance in a way that more mature persons would not, the suit states.

Media reports at the time say both students underwent surgery to try to reattach the fingers.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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