If I lost a leg 15 hours ago to a locomotive, I can tell you this: I would not be chilling in a hospital room, casually describing the bummer for reporters as if it were a story about misplacing my favorite hash pipe. I would be screaming. Pretty loudly, I'm sure. Or drugged unconscious. But not James Piles! James is a kind-bud-toking, one-legged warrior.
The 23-year-old had just spent a relaxing week communing at the annual Rainbow Gathering in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state, and was strolling into Portland by some train tracks when a locomotive came up behind him — striking his duffel bag, and throwing him under the wheels. The train severed his leg below the knee, in "a nice clean cut," and launched it 15 feet away.
"I was heartbroken and freaking out," he said. "It scared the bejesus out of me."
His buddy — who was holding Piles' kitten, Ganja, at the time — saw blood on his friend's face, then saw the severed leg lying on the ground, a boot still on it. Neither one had a phone, but luckily a passerby did, and called 911, saving Piles' life. But not his leg. The health insurance-less Piles waved his new stump around for reporters, and said he'd probably need a "peg leg" to get around from now on. Still, his spirits are, um, high:
"There's not much you can do but be positive about it," Piles said. "Once I get healed up and am able to I will travel harder but I won't jump on trains."