It was a typical morning on his family’s Jersey stud for Numurkah’s Edan Cockerell.
Late last month the 34-year-old jumped out of his tractor to unwrap plastic from hay bales before he loaded them onto a tractor.
‘‘I’d jumped out of the tractor without the handbrake on. It beeped, but I ignored it as you usually do,’’ Mr Cockerell said.
‘‘I went in front of the tractor and began to cut the bales open before I felt a jab on my bum cheek which made me jump to the side.’’
The tractor, which had been stopped about 5m from the bales, had been left on a slight downhill slope.
With the tractor running, it slowly crept forward to impale Mr Cockerell, who was facing a hay bale and had nowhere to go. He was trapped for an hour before help arrived.
‘‘I called out for help but I knew no-one could hear me and after five or 10 minutes trapped there, against the bale with the fork stabbed into me, it slowly began to move forward,’’ he said.
‘‘I could feel the vibrations as it slowly crept forward and felt the prong coming through the front side of my body.’’
The slow wriggle forward is what Mr Cockerell believes saved him.
He believes his vital organs were pushed aside as the fork slowly made its way through his body.
The inch-wide tractor fork impaled him through the left buttock cheek, just 20mm from his anus.
It then travelled through the top of his thigh and into the upper groin region.
‘‘The only thing I could do was hold my weight there and try and minimise the pain,’’ Mr Cockerell said.
His dad John found him after an hour and slowly reversed the tractor.
‘‘That was the most painful bit of all because as it went back I knew I had to go with the fork, so I stepped back as it went,’’ Mr Cockerell said.
‘‘At that point, the pain was about a nine or a 10 but before that it was only a four.’’
Emergency services were called and it was their responsibility to decide what to do with the tractor fork which now protruded more than a foot from the front of Mr Cockerell’s body.
The decision was made to cut the fork from the tractor, with Numurkah SES working diligently using a demolition saw to cut him free.
Transported to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with the fork still lodged in his body, Mr Cockerell said doctors took it out and performed exploratory surgery afterwards.
‘‘Post operation, the doctors and surgeons were telling me how lucky I was that no major damage had been done, ’’ Mr Cockerell said.
‘‘It missed the pelvis, penis, bowel, all my vital organs, which was quite unbelievable.’’
‘‘I’m never buying a lotto ticket again because I don’t think I have any luck left.’’
Mr Cockerell was discharged from hospital on March 3 and said everything was healing up according to plan.
‘‘The support has been overwhelming and anyone that knows us has been offering to help on the farm,’’ he said.
‘‘Retired farmers have come and driven tractors and now I’m just recovering at home, but I’m fine besides being a little bit stiff and tender.’’
Mr Cockerell thanked the CFA, Ambulance Victoria and SES members for their help and the Royal Melbourne Hospital staff for their diligent work.
‘‘I certainly won’t be so blase about parking the tractor without the handbrake on next time,’’ he said.
—Hayden Thompson with Numurkah Leader