Cartoonist's Arm Nearly Severed In Boat Accident

Berkeley Breathed, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and Vashon Island resident, is recovering from a boating accident that nearly severed his right arm.

Fortunately Breathed, who for many years drew the irreverent "Bloom County" and now does "Outland," is left-handed, said Alan Shearer, editorial director and general manager of the Washington Post Writers Group, which distributes Breathed's cartoon strip that runs in hundreds of newspapers, including this newspaper, every Sunday.

The doctors are optimistic that there will be a complete recovery, Shearer said. "He thinks he'll be back drawing within a week," he added.

The accident occurred Monday when Breathed was thrown out of a power boat in Louisiana while doing research for an article for a national boating magazine, Shearer explained.

Breathed, who was a passenger, was hit by the boat's propeller while he was in the water, Shearer said.

Breathed told Shearer that when his arm was struck by the prop it felt like it was hit by a baseball bat. When Breathed came to the surface he shouted, "my arm, my arm," and he doesn't remember too much after that, Shearer said.

He did not know where in Louisiana the accident occurred, Shearer said, and he would not reveal the name of the hospital where Breathed is recuperating, to protect his privacy.

Breathed's spirits are fine, said Shearer, who talked to the cartoonist yesterday. "He's already talking about his next

project," he added.

Breathed is expected to return to Vashon Island in the next several days, Shearer said. It appears that Breathed will miss only one episode of "Outland." A repeat cartoon will be run in its place, Shearer said.

Breathed is a boat enthusiast and owns a large power boat.

In 1986, Breathed was seriously injured when an ultra-light plane he was piloting crashed. Breathed and his wife, Jody Boyman, moved from Colorado to Vashon Island in 1990.