TODAY   |  June 22, 2010

Man revisits scene of self-amputation

Jonathan Metz, the man who tried severing his arm after a home repair went wrong, takes TODAY’s Matt Lauer to the basement where he was forced to chose between life and death.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

MATT LAUER, co-host: We're back at 8:10 with more of our exclusive interview with Jon Metz , the 31-year-old Connecticut man who attempted to cut off his arm three days after it became trapped in his furnace. After we talked at St. Francis Hospital on Monday, he took me back to his home and the basement where it all unfolded. Is it at all bizarre coming back down here?

Mr. JONATHAN METZ (Amputated Own Arm After Being Stuck in Furnace): It is.

LAUER: What was it like the first time you came back down here?

Mr. METZ: Actually, there was a sense of relief coming down and seeing that the boiler that had, you know, cost me my arm was totally, completely gone.

LAUER: So you can -- so this is -- these are both brand-new, and I can see on the floor here the footprint of where the old boiler was.

Mr. METZ: Yep. Here's where the old oil feed came into the burner at the front of the boiler.

LAUER: So you were actually -- the boiler was here, and you were in a position kind of on the side of it over here wedged in here.

Mr. METZ: Yeah. I would say that -- and I -- and I 'm going to line myself up with this Adam Vinatieri ...

LAUER: Poster.

Mr. METZ: ...poster because that's what I recall most vividly. But this is about where I would say I was stuck; not quite able to sit because my arm was stuck up here, not quite able to stand because my arm was stuck right here.

LAUER: So you -- there was no position where you could even get some rest.

Mr. METZ: No. And that was the worst part about it by far. If I had been able to just sit down, think things through, I don't know that the outcome would have been different, but it certainly would have made the thought process a little bit more coherent.

LAUER: I'm not at all trying to make light of this, but I know at one point you started to look around when you were trapped and you said to yourself, `What would MacGyver do?'

Mr. METZ: Yes. And when I said that, what I meant, I think it's obvious to anybody that's ever seen the show, was cutting off one's arm has got to be the last, most desperate act that you can do. So what -- of all the hundreds of tools in this basement, there's got to be something that I can use.

LAUER: But you couldn't get to anything because you're stuck. There's some things that are tantalizingly close over there.

Mr. METZ: Yes. Yes, there's -- there -- it's been put away, but I had my reciprocating saw right on the table there. I had my drill. I had...

LAUER: There's a table saw here, there's a band saw right here.

Mr. METZ: ...a table saw, a band saw here. I -- there was -- happened to be at the time a drill press right here. And I had thoughts of everything from knocking this band saw over and somehow -- now, this -- it weighs 350 pounds.

LAUER: Right, so -- yeah.

Mr. METZ: So clearly this was not rational thought . But that's the thought process I was going through. Something down here has to be able to save me. And I tried -- I had a piece of cord, I tried swinging it and grabbing a weight that was over there to see if I could drag it over and maybe smash the cast iron.

LAUER: Yeah, but before all this, though, I'm looking over here and I see here's the window, this is the side of your house, and I can see your neighbor's house is 20 yards.

Mr. METZ: Mm-hmm.

LAUER: Twenty yards. So you're screaming at the top of your lungs, but because you're down here in concrete and brick they couldn't hear a thing.

Mr. METZ: Nobody can hear. And what's worse, the boiler -- again, the outline's here -- the end of it is -- was here and about as tall as I am. So from where I was squatting, I didn't have a direct line of sight to the window. Because of what I had thought of is if I could only throw something through that window...

LAUER: Yeah.

Mr. METZ: ...I might be able to then project my voice. But here's what really hurt me. You'll notice the bead of caulk...

LAUER: Right.

Mr. METZ: ...running around. So I had winterized this window, and all of the sill and everything, and so it really was an airtight, soundproof environment.

LAUER: And I -- you know, without, you know, getting too gory, I know this has all been cleaned up in here. But by the time this ordeal was over, this floor was covered in blood.

Mr. METZ: Yeah. And even right now, if you look over here...

LAUER: Mm-hmm.

Mr. METZ: the water was spilling from the boiler it started collecting over here. This is normal gray concrete, or at least it was 10 days ago. You can see now that it's orange.

LAUER: It's orange.

Mr. METZ: Orangish-red. That's from the staining and the water and blood seeping towards this drain.

LAUER: And these are the blades?

Mr. METZ: Those are three of the four or five blades that I used.

LAUER: Still with blood on them.

Mr. METZ: Yeah, you can still see they're splattered with blood a little bit. And I had a few others that, I think I mentioned when we spoke earlier...

LAUER: Right.

Mr. METZ: ...I had dropped during the process of cutting because the pain was so intense. And down they fell into the heating box, again, out of my reach , so.

LAUER: You know, the -- I was thinking, this place could be a haunted kind of place for you because of what happened. But you can flip the coin also, Jon , and you can say this is the place where in desperate times you took the actions that saved your life.

Mr. METZ: Yeah. And that's the attitude I've tried to take. This has always been a therapeutic kind of place for me to come home after a long day of work and make -- I'm working on a table over there right now, and you can see the top of the table.

LAUER: Mm-hmm.

Mr. METZ: And to build something. And so I'm trying to get back to the point where it's still kind of a therapeutic place. And I 'm not 100 percent there yet, but I think I'll get there.

LAUER: You'll get there.

Mr. METZ: Yeah.

LAUER: You'll get there. By the way, doctors are hoping to fit Jon with a prosthetic arm by the end of the month. A fund has been set up to help cover the cost of that. You can learn more about that on our Web site , Up next, are police closer to solving the murder of an aspiring model, Paula Sladewski . Her mother, her sister and boyfriend will speak to us in a live interview right after this.