North Idaho

North Idaho fishermen reel in trout, wakeboarder's missing finger

PRIEST LAKE, Idaho - Earlier this month a fisherman found a severed human finger inside a fish he caught at Priest Lake. Authorities in North Idaho took on the investigation and were able to track down the owner of that missing digit.

Calvin Nolan and Mark Blackstone usually fish on Lake Pend Orielle, but in early September they decided to take a trip north to Priest Lake where they caught some large trout.

"It was an amazing day," Blackstone said.

On countless trips to the lake they've caught boatloads of fish. But one they caught at Priest Lake earlier this month stood out. The fish itself wasn't remarkable; it was just a 5-pound trout.

Fish finger

When they went to clean the trout they retrieved something they weren't planning on finding.

"Opened that one up and I said, 'Oh, another crawdad,' and another guy says, 'Nope, that's a human finger,'" Calvin Nolan said.

It was an entire human finger that looked like it had been swallowed whole.

The fishermen took the finger out, put it on ice, and delivered it to the Bonner County Sheriff's Office, which took over the investigation. The sheriff's office scanned the fingerprint on the digit and came up with a match.

On Tuesday, Haans Galassi got a phone call.

"I just, when he told me that, I just was, it didn't shock me because that's what I had been telling people. So I was like, 'Let me guess, you found my finger in a fish'," he said.

Galassi lost that finger found in the fish along with three others in a wakeboarding accident in June eight miles away from where Blackstone and Nolan caught the trout.

A rope somehow looped around his hand like a lasso and when the boat accelerated it yanked off his fingers.

"'I'm surprised I haven't lost fingers yet' is what I always told myself, and I'm glad it's not my hand," Galassi said.

The Bonner County Sheriff still has his finger, but Galassi's doctor has told him there's no way it can be reattached. Galassi isn't sure if he'll want it back, even though other people went to great lengths to accidentally retrieve it for him.

"My friend tells me, 'Have people send you lottery tickets because you're really lucky right now,'" Galassi said.

As for Blackstone and Nolan, it's one fish story they won't have to exaggerate about.

"(It's) something we'll remember for years to come. That's the fish tale of fish tales," Blackstone said.