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SUNDAY STORY:Friends for life

As Telford Cottam Jr. bled profusely from his right arm in a small town in Mexico, his companions had one option: Save their friend. But how?

August 13, 2006|By Lauren Vane

In the middle seat of a Chevrolet Suburban driving through the dark streets of Ensenada, Mexico, three Newport-Mesa teenagers held their friend in their arms. Flagging down pedestrians and passing motorists, the boys desperately fought against a language barrier to find a hospital.

With one boy holding him from behind and two others on either side, they applied constant pressure to 18-year-old Telford Cottam Jr.'s upper arm. Jonsen Carmack was pressing so hard that his arm was cramping — and the hospital was nowhere in sight. Jonsen, Danny Furman and Brett Auer were holding Telford's life in their hands.

If they let go, he could bleed to death in minutes.

A half an hour earlier, Telford had sliced his arm through a plate glass window during a water fight with friends at a private club in a small town near Ensenada, where the group of Newport Harbor High School students were vacationing with some parents. The glass shattered around Telford's right arm, cutting through a main artery and severing every nerve.

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Instantly, Telford said he knew what had happened and that it wasn't good.

"I didn't think I was going to make it, for sure," Telford said.

His friends reached him in seconds, but he was already becoming dizzy from the amount of blood he'd lost.

Telford was bleeding out like a fire hose, and Brett and Danny, both seasonal Newport Beach lifeguards, and Jonsen, a former Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard, knew they needed to apply pressure to stop the bleeding.

They tried to call for an ambulance, then decided they would have better luck driving Telford to a hospital themselves. With a parent at the wheel, they carried Telford into the Suburban.

It was nearing midnight, and with some of the street lights broken in town, the roads were dark, and it was difficult to see, Danny said. Running stoplights, they tried asking everyone they saw for help, but almost no drivers would roll down their car windows.

Finally, a taxi driver said he would guide them to the nearest hospital.

Nearly 40 minutes had passed from the time of the accident till they reached the hospital. The three boys never once let go of Telford's arm, and he didn't lose any blood while in the car.

"They knew that they had no choice. They had to hold it because if they didn't, I would die," Telford said.

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