Farm Industry News Blog

Saved by my cell phone

A month ago I was putting liquid nitrogen on our cornfields. I stopped at my home and partially filled my tank and talked to my wife and then left to do a small field at 5:30 p.m. When I was driving down to the field, I managed to flip the tank sideways. When it flipped, it partially flipped the tractor. I was violently thrown off over the rear fender of the John Deere 4020.

When I regained consciousness, I found myself in a tight situation. My one hip was pinned by the back tractor tire and the other hip was pinned to the ground with my butt squashed between the two. I tried to wiggle out several times with no luck, and I yelled for help for a minute or so until I could see that it was doing no good. I was bleeding on my face and felt that my lungs were filling up with blood. The rear wheel of the tractor was hovering over me at a perilous angle right above my torso. My legs were starting to swell up and I was pretty sure I wouldn't make it until my wife would come looking for me at dark.  

Then I remembered that I put my cell phone in my shirt pocket. I usually don't carry it and when I do I put it in my pants pockets. I zipped my hooded sweatshirt down and found the cell phone still where I had put it. I called my wife and told her I needed help right away because I probably wasn't going to live much longer. She called 911 and started gathering up chains.

Firemen started to arrive 4 minutes later. I wanted them to pull the tractor off me with chains and was giving them all kinds of suggestions. They said no, they were going to use air bags from their Jaws of Life kit. It took about 15 minutes to pump them up far enough to take the pressure of the tractor off me. In the meantime the rescue squad leader had cut my clothes off. Then they loaded me into the helicopter that was waiting to take me to the hospital. I was X-rayed and they found my pelvis had cracks in it. I spent the next seven days in intensive care, then two more weeks in the hospital's rehab unit.  

I am home now and getting home health care, including physical and occupational therapy. The pelvis is healing and I am able to move a little bit more each day. One of my neighbors wants to take me to Reno, Nev., to gamble for him. Both he and I realize that the odds of me ever getting out of the predicament that I was in (in one piece) were low. The pelvis cracks were extremely painful the first couple weeks. I am still scared senseless.  

This is something I never want to go through again. Pelvis fractures usually come from high-speed car accidents. If people could feel the pain that I felt, everybody would be driving 55 mph! Lesson learned: Even if you have been doing things the same way for years, review all your farming practices for safety issues. From now on I'll always carry my cell phone buttoned in my shirt pocket. It saved my life! 

Daryl's John Deere 4020 tractor after the accident:

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The Farm Industry News Blog features commentary from Willie Vogt, Jodie Wehrspann, Kathy Huting, Lynn Grooms, Daryl Bridenbaugh and Jeff Ryan.

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