Miraculous escape from eighty feet tractor plunge

April 27, 2010

By Brónagh Murphy

A Silverbridge farmer had a miraculous escape on Wednesday evening when his tractor plunged more than 80 feet down a steep embankment and landed on its roof, trapping him inside.

Micksey Toal had been driving the machine on land behind his Legmoylin Road home when, without warning, the ground gave way close to the edge of the ravine, causing the tractor to topple over.

The seven-tonne machine plunged more than 80 feet into the ravine before coming to rest upside down, trapping him inside the cab.

It was only through the alertness of a young child – whose home overlooks the field – that the near-tragedy came to light.

Three-year-old Conor Heaney had been watching the tractor activity from his bedroom window for some time when he noticed it topple over.  He pointed out what he had seen to his father, who realised that a serious accident had occurred.  Mr Heaney then contacted the emergency services before alerting nearby residents who also ran to help.

Although the position of the tractor hampered the rescue efforts, paramedics and fire crews painstakingly worked to free Mr Toal before he was treated at the scene by the paramedics.  When his condition was stabilised, he was taken by ambulance to Daisy Hill Hospital.

He remained in hospital for several days receiving treatment for his injuries, which are not believed to be serious.

Mr Toal’s daughter Mary says it is a miracle her father survived the accident and added her family is deeply grateful to the emergency services and the local community for their assistance.

A spokesperson for Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) praised the work of all the emergency services’ personnel.  He paid particular tribute to members of the local community whose assistance, he says, was invaluable.

“Members of the public worked with the police, Fire Service and paramedics help free the casualty by handing equipment up and down the embankment.  Using specialist equipment and manually handling, the casualty was then lifted up a steep embankment.  Again everyone helped with this task and their help was invaluable.

“It was a fine example of teamwork where, given the situation, everyone remained calm and no one panicked. This helped the rescue process greatly and made the task of the emergency services easier,” the spokesperson said.

Grateful appreciation

upon his release from hospital, Mr Toal issued a statement extending his sincere appreciation to all who helped in the rescue mission.

“I wish to express my sincere thanks to every one who helped rescue me after my accident on Wednesday last 21st April.

“The Ambulance Service and Paramedics for their medical care and attention, the Crossmaglen Fire Service and PSNI for their expertise and skills in coordinating and assisting throughout the operation, the Silverbridge & Dorsey Safety Group and all our neighbours who helped raise the alarm and have as many hands on board as possible to form the human chain to lift me back to safety and last, but not least, Dr Sweeney and Staff of Accident and Emergency, X-ray Department and Male Surgical Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry for their care and attention.

“A special thank you to Connor Heaney for raising the alarm, at three years old, Connor has shown instinct and kindness beyond his young years and to the entire community, thank you for your good wishes and the support that you have shown to my family and I.

“It was a difficult and time consuming operation where so many people readily give their time and energy to aid me. To those involved, my wife, family and I are perpetually indebted.”

Micksey Toal, Silverbridge