Antrim farmer recalls day his eight year old son fell from moving tractor and smashed his skull

Antrim farmer recalls day his eight year old son fell from moving tractor and smashed his skull

A Northern Ireland dairy farmer has recalled the tragic day when his eight-year-old son fell out of the tractor they were travelling in and had to be rushed to hospital with a double fractured skull.

Wallace Gregg farms near the village of Cloughmills in County Antrim told his story on a video released by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) in a bid to highlight the dangers to other families and children on farms.

In an emotional recollection of the incident, Wallace said: “This was my fault. I shouldn't have had him in the tractor.”

The farmer and dad of four says the incident also made him realise how fast accidents can happen.

The accident happened back on October 26, 2015.

It was the first day of the Halloween holidays and Wallace's two sons, eight-year-old James and five-year-old Simon, were out on the farm with their dad.

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Wallace had a Massey Ferguson 5470 tractor that needed some repairs carried out and he was going to take it to the mechanic's workshop. His two sons wanted to go with him.

“The two boys are quite interested in the farming and being outside,” said Wallace. “They wanted to come with me and I thought well, it’s nice to have the boys with me on the farm.

“The two boys got into the tractor cab. Simon was sitting on the seat beside the main seat and James was standing just inside the cab.

We were driving down the road and we were chatting away and laughing away.At one stage we hit a bumpy bit on the road. James stumbled against the door and fell out. It's about 1.5 metres to the ground.

“I stopped the tractor as quick as possible. James was lying semi-conscious on the side of the road. I rang for an ambulance straight away,” said Wallace.

With the ambulance on the way Wallace also called his wife Joan and told her what had happened.

“It wasn't one of those phone calls you want to make. It was a very worrying time.

James was put into an induced coma and put on a life support machine. He had sustained a double fracture to his skull.

He spent that night in intensive care. Over the following months, the young boy made a full recovery.

Wallace said: “Farmers feel proud that their boys are interested in the farm and you want to encourage that.

“But believe you me, when I was sitting beside that hospital bed in intensive care at two o'clock in the morning I did not feel proud at all.

“I felt this was my fault. I shouldn't have had him in the tractor. Or I should have grabbed him. I should have stopped him.

“But it was too late. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye and after that you have to face up to that and live with the consequences.”

wallace gregg family

James is now nine years old and has made a remarkable recovery.

However, for the family it is a lesson learned and one that they want to emphasis to other farmers and children about the dangers that can be encountered around farms and machinery.

“We are very lucky he has recovered in the way he has considering the seriousness of the accident.

“Accidents are the thing you hear about on the news and it is only until you are involved in an accident that you realise they can happen so easily and that we have to be ultra cautious.

“It puts a vastly different perspective on life and how we do things.

“After the accident I have since learned that the legal age for children to be allowed on tractors is 13 or over. Before the accident you think it'll not happen to me, it's fine to have the boys in the tractor.

“I have learned it can happen to you and don't have the children in the tractor,” said Wallace.

HSENI’s head of farm safety Malcolm Downey, said the Gregg's highlights how vital child safety is on farms.

“This video message comes at a crucial time as school summer holidays are upon us and is a good reminder to all farming families to be vigilant and ensure young ones are kept away from danger at all times."

Watch the video here...