COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — One Colorado Springs coffee roaster and barista is recovering after nearly losing her arm in a workplace accident.
It happened just days before she was heading to compete in a national coffee competition.
FOX21 spoke with her about what happened and how she’s doing now.
When she’s not at Story Coffee Company making caffeinated magic behind the espresso machine, Eliza Lovett is roasting coffee and has been for the past three years – it’s her passion.
But it wasn’t until about two weeks ago that she ever imagined not being able to do what she loves ever again.
Tuesday, April 11 started as a normal day at the roastery.
“At the end of the roast I dump it this way. There’s a door here and I dump it into this here handy dandy cooling tray,” Lovett said.
She says it’s not uncommon for roasters to reach into the cooling tray and grab defective beans, which is exactly what she was doing – but this time she was wearing bracelets.
“My bracelet got stuck to probably that bolt right there so one bracelet got stuck, the other one sort of fastened it in there,” said Lovett.
Desperately trying to free herself, the machine kept rotating, swinging Lovett’s arm around with it as many as 5 times.
Lovett said, “By the time I got it out I had fallen to the ground and I finally got unstuck and my wrist and hand were hanging from the rest of my arm by my radial nerve.”
She says it happened so fast her adrenaline kicked in and she didn’t even feel a thing.
“I sort of looked down at my arm and was so stunned that I literally took my hand and tried to put it back together,” said Lovett. “When I realized that wasn’t working, I took my shirt off and wrapped it.”
Thankfully someone else was there and was able to call for help. Another person put a tourniquet on her until EMTs arrived. All the while, Lovett was just trying to stay conscious.
Lovett said, “They kept asking me my name and my birthday and did I know where I was and I was responding, ‘Yes I know who I am. I know where I am. I know what happened’.”
Lovett’s forearm had been nearly severed and every second that passed, the chances of amputation went up.
“The word ground got thrown around a handful of times because it was not clean at all,” said Lovett. “The bones got pretty roughed up.”
After several hours of surgery at Penrose – St. Francis Hospital, doctors were able to save her hand.
Lovett said, “The physical pain of having my arm almost ripped off wasn’t that bad like it wasn’t what you would expect.”
What Lovett says hurts far more is that she was days away from competing in a national barista competition in Seattle.
“I’m really lucky to be sitting here today,” said Lovett. “It wasn’t great timing. It was a week before I as supposed to go compete but I’m really, really lucky to have a left arm.”
Lovett was back roasting the day after she got out of the hospital and she did get to go watch the competition.
Her focus now is recovery.
Doctors tell her she may never be 100 percent, which is something she’s taking as a challenge.
“I do want to prove them wrong.” Lovett said, “I would love to make a 100 percent recovery and be the miracle girl who has a left arm that’s fully functional, of course.”
Until then, she has some advice.
“I did not have enough respect for that machine and I think a lot of us don’t. We think of it as just another machine like an espresso machine, no big deal,” said Lovett. “This could have happened to anyone it really could’ve. Just don’t stick your hand in a cooling tray.”