Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A little levity

July 10--LAS CRUCES -- It's not unusual for motorists to report a suspicious-looking hitchhiker to the police -- unless the hitchhiker is naked and running into highway traffic with a prosthetic leg on fire.

The 47-year-old Mesilla Park man is recovering at a Texas burn center after being found on the U.S. 70 bridge over Del Rey Boulevard just before 7 p.m. Monday, with "significant" burns to his leg, buttocks, his plastic prosthesis "and what was left of his sock," according to Las Cruces Police Department reports.

In addition to "the burnt remains" of his clothing, an officer also found a 5-inch tube stuffed with wire mesh, which appeared to have been used as a smoking pipe.

The cause of the burns, the man told police, was losing a drinking game for having "only drank a six-pack," according to the police report.

As punishment, his three friends set his jeans and his prosthesis on fire and let the material -- then his flesh -- burn and blacken until he "could not stand the pain of wearing clothes" and stripped down to his shoes, the police report states.

When he couldn't stand the flames any more, he asked for a ride from his friend's home on Butterfield Boulevard to somewhere near a medical clinic, since his friends "didn't want to take him all the way to the hospital because they thought they were going to get arrested," the man told police. His friends got nervous when he complained of his pains, he said, and dropped him off on the highway.

Before police arrived, the man

ended up throwing his cigarettes and wallet into the bed of a truck, whose occupants locked the door and drove off when they saw he was naked. (The motorist later contacted police to return the man's wallet.)

No criminal charges were filed against the men who set him on fire or left him on the highway, and the man told police he didn't once try to stop them.

"If they had lost the bet," the man told police, "he would have done the same to them."


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