Exercise enthusiast, Tom Ralston, spent a harrowing night trapped inside the gym he attends, CrossFit HamFist. The 43-year-old investment banker stayed late to finish a 5k row, assuring gym owner, Cindy Latham, that he would leave within the hour and lock the door behind him.
“He’s always been clumsy and uncoordinated, but he’s a trustworthy guy,” Latham said through tears “I forgot how much trouble he has unstrapping his feet from the rower. I wish I had stayed with him.”
Authorities say that Ralston finished his workout at approximately 8:00 PM, and began attempting to release himself from the straps that were holding his feet to the rower. After his initial attempts failed, Ralston began to panic, wriggling frantically while clawing at the heel-hooks with his fingers. Unable to free himself or reach his phone, Ralston realized the seriousness of the situation. “I knew if I didn’t do something drastic, I was going to spend the entire night in the gym. I’m not going to lie, I was afraid.”
Shortly after midnight, Ralston began shaking the rower violently, attempting to break his feet free from their confusing prison of plastic and nylon. Instead, he tipped the entire device over, trapping himself on his side and dramatically complicating his situation.
“I was pinned on my side,” Ralston recalled. “The good thing was, I was finally able to reach something.”
That “something” was an empty plastic shaker bottle. Now feeling the acute effects of dehydration, Ralston decided to collect his urine in the bottle. “You know, just in case it came to that,” he explained.
Unfortunately, he fumbled the container during collection, spilling the contents and urinating on himself.
Now soaked in his own urine, cold, and afraid, Ralston grew desperate. Perhaps inspired by similar stories of survival, he decided to saw through his own legs with the chain attached to the rower handle. He began by methodically working the metal chain back and forth across his shins. The plan might have worked if owner Cindy Latham did not pride herself on care of her gym’s equipment. After several more hours, the perfectly clean and oiled chain had only caused the equivalent of a rope burn across the front of Ralston’s shin.
“I just calmed down and accepted that I was probably going to die here.”
Finally, in a moment of inspiration, a despairing Ralston thought of one last option. Reaching toward his feet, Ralston began unlacing his custom orthopedic New Balance shoes. Soon he pulled his large, white-socked feet from what had very nearly been their grave.
At 6:00 AM, Latham returned to find Ralston passed out on the floor, having begun to crawl towards the door. She called 911, and paramedics took Ralston to the hospital.
“I’m just so thankful that we found him in time,” She said. “CrossFit HamFist wouldn’t be the same without Tom.”