‘I just remember the wheel going over my midriff’

The survivor of a childhood farm accident has detailed what happened to her and its long-term consequences in a video uploaded by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to underline the importance of farm safety.

The video was released by the HSA to hammer home the message as Farm Safety Week 2018 runs throughout this week (July 16-22).

Issued on YouTube and other social media today (Tuesday, July 17), the survivor, Kerrie Leonard of Culmullen, Co. Meath, explains how a machinery accident as a child left her paralysed.

The accident

Kerrie recalls how, as a six-year-old in 1997, she was up in her father’s tractor on her home farm.

HSA survivor story

She was sitting inside the cab of the tractor while a farm worker drove the vehicle. She recalls: “I was kind of bouncing up and down trying to occupy myself and I had my hand on the handle above the door.

“There was no door on the director cab. I lost my grip and I fell from the tractor; and because he thought that I was in front of the tractor he reversed.

I just remember the wheel going over me, across my midriff.

After the incident, Kerrie remembers seeing her arm, which from the shoulder socket had been split open.

“I could just see the ball and the socket of the shoulder; and at that point that was the first sign that there was any kind of blood or anything related to the injury at all.”

Kerrie was able to walk for about 24 hours after the incident before losing the use of her legs as adrenaline wore off.

She then details the journey to recovery and learning to adjust to her disability, including an eight-week stint at both Crumlin Children’s Hospital and the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

Kerrie stressed the importance of ensuring safety at all times.

She said: “You can quite easily take it for granted that what you’ve done a hundred times will work out.

“It’s to think about that one time that something might go wrong – what happens then?

“You need to be as observant of that as possible to make sure that your child is as safe as possible on the farm.”