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Charlottetown tattoo shop owner talks about long road ahead after having part of leg amputated in violent assault

Tattoo artist Artie Gautreau cuts a steel sheet he plans to use during renovations at his shop, Extreme Ink, in Charlottetown. Gautreau lost part of one leg after someone used a vehicle to pin him against the building of his shop on Dec. 23.
Tattoo artist Artie Gautreau cuts a steel sheet he plans to use during renovations at his shop, Extreme Ink, in Charlottetown. Gautreau lost part of one leg after someone used a vehicle to pin him against the building of his shop on Dec. 23. - Ryan Ross
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

After losing part of his leg when a truck pinned him against his tattoo shop, Artie Gautreau says he doesn’t have any fear of death.

He said it sounds clichéd, but it’s true.

“I should have died that night.”

Speaking to The Guardian almost two months after an altercation that saw three people, including himself, facing criminal charges, Gautreau said he didn’t want to talk about the events that led up to his leg being crushed because the matter is still before the court.

Instead, as Gautreau busied himself, at times wheeling around the shop on an office chair and pointing out some of the changes he made or still needs to make, he spoke about the impact the events of Dec. 23 had on him.

Charlottetown police allege two men showed up at Extreme Ink, which Gautreau has been running for more than four years.

The police allege the men got into a heated exchange with Gautreau and that one of them pinned him against the building with a vehicle.

Gautreau said that at some point after he was free, he tried to stand, not knowing his leg was broken.

Instead he collapsed.

The shattered bones punctured his leg and he could see blood pooling from his wounds.

Gautreau said he was terrified.

“You can’t even explain it. Look down at your leg and it’s shattered into pieces and your ankle’s the other way and you know you’re not living through this.”

It was around 5 a.m., and Gautreau said he remembers screaming for help but nobody answering.

“I only had enough energy to hold the bleeding and then scream.”

Eventually the police arrived, and one officer tried to reassure him help was coming while another kept shining a light in his eyes to keep him conscious, Gautreau said.

“I could feel myself dying. You know when you’re dying.”

“I could feel myself dying. You know when you’re dying.”
-Artie Gautreau

Gautreau was later airlifted to Halifax and said he remembers waking up the next day with part of his leg missing.

A second operation was needed Dec. 24, and five days later more surgery was necessary to cut out an infection.

He still has a catheter in a vein in his arm that is used to carry antibiotics to his heart.

Gautreau said that after beating a drug addiction several years ago he has been recovering from his injuries without taking opiate painkillers and is using other prescription drugs instead.

“It hurts like hell,” he said.

Tattoo artist Artie Gautreau shows off a custom-made piece of equipment he uses at his shop Extreme Ink in Charlottetown. Gautreau lost part of one leg after someone used a vehicle to pin him against the building on Dec. 23. - Ryan Ross
Tattoo artist Artie Gautreau shows off a custom-made piece of equipment he uses at his shop Extreme Ink in Charlottetown. Gautreau lost part of one leg after someone used a vehicle to pin him against the building on Dec. 23. - Ryan Ross

While he recovered, Gautreau spent about two weeks in hospital in Halifax and about five at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown before he was released.

“It was one big, long nightmare to me. I was waiting to wake up (from it) every day,” he said.

As he showed what remains of his leg, Gautreau said he still feels everything that is now missing.

“Sometimes it feels like somebody took a shotgun blast to my ankle.”

With a few months of rent for his shop paid in advance before the incident, Gautreau said there was never a time when he didn’t want to get up and go back to work.

“I have no choice. I’m running out of time.”

Gautreau said it was overwhelming when he first got back to the shop because there was so much work that needed to be done.

He wondered if he could re-open and get back to work.

“Now I know I can,” he said.

His plan is to open Monday, and Gautreau said he wants to show the world that he prevailed.

Twitter.com/ryanrross

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