Fisherman Nolan Calvin and a few friends thought they would end their day on Idaho’s Priest Lake by settling in for a good meal of smoked trout.
Instead, he made a stomach-turning discovery – a human finger inside a trout’s stomach.
“A friend of mine caught the fish. And as soon as I gutted it, I opened it and saw the human finger,” Calvin told ABC News.
The mysterious pinky finger belonged to a human’s left hand and was nearly perfectly preserved inside the fish, Calvin said.
It had been in the lake for more than two months before Calvin found it more than than eight miles away from where it initially separated from its owner.
Thinking quickly, Calvin threw the finger and the fish intestines in a bag, put it all on ice and searched for enough cell phone signal to contact the police. All the while, he hoped that the body it belonged to was a victim of a boating accident, not a homicide.
“A lot of things go through your mind,” Calvin said. “We were hoping it was more of a boat accident than a body.”
“Its just one of those things. … I’ve never found a finger before in my life,” added Calvin, who served in Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield in Iraq.
The finger belonged to 31-year-old Haans Galassi, who on in mid-July was out wakeboarding with friends on Priest Lake when his hand became trapped in the towline that connected his wakeboard to the boat. He wasn’t able to free it in time, and in seconds, the tightened rope severed nearly all of his fingers.
“I pulled my hand out of the water, I looked down and all four fingers were basically gone,” Galassi told ABC News. “It was carnage. It looked like a ‘Braveheart’ movie. It was just flesh and bone.”
Investigators later were able to trace the finger back to Galassi using fingerprint analysis.
Galassi said there wasn’t a lot of blood and only a manageable amount of pain, but paramedics rushed him to the nearest hospital by helicopter. All that he had left on the hand was half an index finger, half a pointer finger and a thumb.
Months later, Sgt. Gary Johnston in Bonner County, Idaho, sheriff’s office would be the one to deliver the news to Galassi that at least one of his fingers had finally been found.
“I called him up and said, ‘Well, are you sitting down? Are you ready for this?’” Johnston told ABC News. “He actually had a real good sense of humor about it. He took it really well.”
On the other end of the line, Galassi couldn’t believe that someone had actually caught the fish that had eaten his finger in the deep and sprawling lake.
“I never expected anybody would ever find my fingers,” Galassi said. “I just expected that the fish would eat them. They’re gone. Sayonara. They’re at the bottom of the lake. They’re fish food.”
“I told [Johnston], ‘You guys have probably been looking for a body, haven’t you?’” Galassi said. “That’s what I would think.”
Johnston, a 21-year police force veteran, said the incident is among the strangest things he’s encountered.
“It’s ranking right in there with the top 10, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I’ve still got three more fingers out there that haven’t been caught yet, so I don’t know what’s going to be next.”