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Local doctor reflects on day JFK was rushed into emergency room
By: Shelton Dodson
EL PASO, Texas - An El Paso doctor who was there as his colleagues tried to save JFK's life talks about that day to KFOX14.
Dr. Curtis Spier has a comfortable seat inside his Central El Paso home. Fifty years ago today he had a front row seat to one of the greatest tragedies in American history.
"I've never run into a person who couldn't tell you exactly where he was and exactly what he was doing when they first heard that Kennedy had been killed," said Spier. "Nobody."
Spier is a 1953 graduate of El Paso High School. After earning his bachelor's degree three years later at what was then Texas Western, Spier headed to Dallas to study medicine. In 1963, he was the senior resident at Parkland Hospital in downtown Dallas. The anesthesiologist was heading to what was supposed to be his normal, Friday meeting at Parkland Hospital. The day was Nov. 22, 1963. He had no clue what he was walking in to.
"There was so much chaos around there. There wasn't really much time to sit and take it all in. It just kind of tested all your senses. It was shocking to say the least."
Spier found himself inside a small emergency room while a team of doctors frantically worked on the president.
"My chief was standing at the head of the table cradling Kennedy's head in his hands and it was just a bloody mess."
The president never had a chance, according to Spier. "President Kennedy died immediately. He was not alive when he got to Parkland Hospital. There was no sign of life. It was over in 12 minutes."
Spier says he didn't have time to digest what happened the day of the assassination. Two days later he was back at Parkland Hospital when a mortally wounded Lee Harvey Oswald was brought there as well.
"I never saw a gunshot wound that was more catastrophic than Kennedy's or Oswald's. They were both immediately mortal. It's hard to wrap your head around something like that taking place within arm's length from you."
A half century later, the memories remain crystal clear for the now 78-year-old Spier.
"It is something that, after 50 years I've just gotten used to. I've dreamed about it at times. But it has never overwhelmed me."
Asked if he could ever erase the memory of what he saw that day, Spier said, "I never will. I mean, how could you forget that?"