El Paso doc among last survivors to have been in ER with JFK

Dr. Spier recounts his experience 50 years ago

EP Doctor In JFK Operating Room 50 Years Ago

EL PASO, Texas - Fifty years have passed since John F. Kennedy was gunned down in the streets of Dallas.

Kennedy had made his way to Texas to mend political fences, instead he'd leave in a body bag.

Days later Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused shooter, was killed himself in the same city. Both ended up at Parkland Hospital, both crossed paths with an El Paso doctor named Curtis Spier.

"It's pretty vivid," recounts Dr. Spier in his west El Paso home. "If you talk to most people who were alive in that period they can tell you where they were, and exactly what they were doing at the time they heard Kennedy was assassinated.

Spier was heading to Parkland Hospital, his place of work for 13 years. That morning he had no plans to see the president. While hundreds lined the streets of Dallas to cheer on Kennedy's motorcade, Spier was planning on a typical day of work. When he pulled up to Parkland Hospital police were scattered throughout the area, only people that were meant to be there were being admitted in. As a senior resident of anesthesiology, Spier was ushered into the hospital.

Heading straight to the emergency room, Spier squeezed his way into an operating room. Among the others in the room were his chief and the head of neurosurgery. Spier calls himself a fly on the wall -- he never touched the president, but the young 20-something doctor who expected to see the highlights of the President's visit on television ended up mere feet from the president.

"Jack Kennedy was dead before he ever go to the hospital," said Spier in a matter-of-fact tone. "There was no living person."

Spier recounts the president's wife, Jackie, in her famed pink suit. According to Spier, it was soaked in blood as she handed a doctor a part of the president's body. Inside the operating room, a lifeless president lay on an operating table with Spier's boss cradling his head. Although everyone knew he was dead, Spier said everyone continued to work -- no one wanted to be the person to stop working on the president.

"My chief said to the chief of neurosurgery, 'Kemp, I think you need to come look at this.' Clark went to the head of the table, he examined the wound and said, 'This wound is not compatible with life.'"

Nov. 22nd, 1963 remains a day like any other to Spier, according to him, the only difference is people ask him about it. The things he recounted during an hour-long sit-down with ABC-7 are the same things people have asked him for years, however, he admits that it did affect him in some ways.

"Oh, I think about it," said Spier. "I even dreamt about it a couple of times -- I just don't have, you know, I'm not devastated by it anymore."

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