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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. VI - Page 41« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Dr. Charles Rufus Baxter)

Mr. SPECTER. Would you continue to describe what you observed as to his condition?
Dr. BAXTER. There were no pulses that I could feel present. The anesthesiologist told me. that he did still have a heartbeat.

Mr. Specter.
Who is that who said that to you?

Dr. BAXTER. Well, I believe this was Carrico who said that his heart was still beating. There was present at the time two intravenous catheters in place with fluids running. We were informed at that time well, having looked over the rest of the body, the only other wound was in his neck, that we saw.
Dr. Carrico said that he had observed a tracheal laceration. At that moment Dr. Jones, I believe, was placing in a left anterior chest tube because of this information. We proceeded at that time with a tracheotomy.
Mr. Specter.
Who performed the 'tracheotomy?
Dr. BAXTER. Dr. Perry and myself, with the assistance of Dr. McClelland, and I believe that's all--there may have been one more person that held the retractor.
Mr. SPECTER. What else, if anything, did you do for President Kennedy at that
Dr. BAXTER. During the tracheotomy, I helped with the insertion of a right anterior chest tube, and then helped Dr. Perry complete the tracheotomy. At that point none of us could hear a heartbeat present. Apparently this had ceased during the tracheotomy and the chest tube placement.
We then gave him or Dr. Perry and Dr. Clark alternated giving him closed chest cardiac massage only until we could get a cardioscope hooked up to tell us if there were any detectible heartbeat electrically present, at least, and there was none, and we discussed at that moment whether we should open the chest to attempt to revive him, while the closed chest massage was going on, and we had an opportunity to look at his head wound then and saw that the damage was beyond hope, that is, in a word-- literally the right side of his head had been blown off. With this and the observation that the cerebellum was present--a large quantity of brain was present on the cart, well--we felt that such an additional heroic attempt was not warranted, and we did not pronounce him dead but ceased our efforts, and awaited the priest and last rites before we pronounced him dead.
Mr. Specter.
Did the priest then arrive to perform the last rites?
Dr. BAXTER. Yes.
Mr. Specter.
At what time was he pronounced dead?

Dr. BAXTER. As I recall, it was 1:08, I'm not sure, it may have been that that was Oswald.
Mr. SPECTER. But it was approximately 1 o'clock? Then, could the time of death be fixed with any precision?
Dr. BAXTER. I don't think so--the time elapsing in all of this resuscitation and the time the heart actually ceased, I don't think one could be very sure of it. It was sometime between a quarter to 1 and 1 o'clock.
Mr. SPECTER. Have you now described all of the efforts which were made to save the life of the President?
Dr. BAXTER. Only with the exception, I think, of the fluids that were administered. He was given hydrocortisone because of his previous medical condition. He was given no negative blood because the blood loss was rather fierce and, I believe that's all.
Mr. SPECTER. What other doctors arrived during the course of the treatment, in addition to those whom you have already mentioned?
Dr. BAXTER. I don't recall--I know that there were more doctors present in the room, but their names, I'm not sure of. The reason I'm not sure is because we had some of the same crew and a different crew on the Governor and on Oswald, and I'm afraid that I've gotten them mixed up.
Mr. SPECTER. Now, will you describe in as much particularity as you can the nature of the head wound
Dr. BAXTER. The only wound that I actually saw--Dr. Clark examined this above the manubrium of the sternum, the sternal notch. This wound was in temporal parietal plate of bone laid outward to the side and there was a large area, oh, I would say 6 by 8 or 10 cm. of lacerated brain oozing from this wound,
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