Illinois man has turn-signal lever removed from arm 51 years after crash

Call it a turning point.

For more than 50 years, an Illinois man had - unbeknownst to him at first - a 7-inch turn-signal lever from a 1963 Thunderbird stuck in his left forearm after an almost fatal head-on collision.

“It never bothered me until recently,” Arthur Lampitt told the Los Angeles Times.

The lever was successfully removed from his arm Wednesday. Now, the 75-year-old who lives in Granite City is getting calls from around the country about his unique car tale.

It began on a Wednesday afternoon in 1963 when Lampitt said his car hydroplaned out of control on Route 24, resulting in a head-on collision with a semi-truck.

He suffered numerous severe injuries, including a broken hip and ribs, along with multiple cuts, he said.


Having healed from the injuries - except for some scars, including one on his left arm - Lampitt believed that was the end of it.

Everything changed when he set off a metal detector in a courthouse about 15 years ago, he said.

“My bare arm was making it beep,” he chuckled. “They told me there must be metal in my arm, and sure enough.”

Lampitt, who has been in real estate all his life, said doctors believed then the object in his arm was likely a medical instrument left after his post-crash treatment in 1963.

“I took them at their word and didn’t think much else of it,” he said.

The metal rod was on the underside of the arm, so it was not noticeable, Lampitt said.

Then a few weeks ago, Lampitt was moving concrete blocks for a home he’s fixing up when his arm began to hurt and something started to protrude from the skin, he said.

Seeking medical attention, Lampitt underwent a successful 45-minute surgery in a St. Louis hospital, where he was presented with the lever in the recovery room.

“I was surprised how corroded it is,” Lampitt said. “I started to wonder just where all that metal went.”

Now recovering at home, Lampitt said he was once again in no pain and able to chuckle about the incident.

As for the lever, the doctor who removed it asked if he could keep it for his oddities collection.

“I think I’ll let him have it,” Lampitt said. “It’s been with me long enough.”

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