Saturday, July 12, 2014

Man Mashed in Machinery

FINCASTLE, VA - A Botetourt County farmer mashed his left arm and hand in a hay baler in a farming accident on Saturday, July 5.

The incident occurred around 2 p.m. James F., (blogger's husband), a 55-year-old local cattleman who has been farming all of his life, caught his arm in a John Deere round bale hay baler.

Mr. F. said he had left the tractor idling and the baler running while he used an air compressor hose to clean out the round baler after finishing up one of his hay fields.

"That's where I messed up," Mr. F. said. "I should have cut the machinery off."

The air compressor hose was sucked up into the revolving baler belts, taking Mr. F.'s arm with it. Mr. F. was trapped between the belt and the roller. Because of the force exerted on Mr. F.'s arm, the baler hung up, causing the tractor to stall, momentarily shutting down the baler. At that moment, he was able to pull his arm free. 

"I had my pocket knife out, hoping it was sharp enough to cut the baler belts," Mr. F. later said. His pocket knife and a broken watch were later found at the rear of the machine.

Mr. F. rinsed his arm off, wrapped it in a sheet, and drove himself up to his home, a distance of about a half-mile, on his utility vehicle. He went inside and told his wife he need to go to the urgent care facility because he had cut himself on the baler.

At the urgent care, medical personnel quickly realized the extent of Mr. F.'s injuries and called the local rescue squad. He was transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Around 9 p.m., Mr. F. was taken back for surgery to his forearm and hand. He sustained a severe laceration at his thumb, as well as a broken thumb, and the intense pressure on his arm mashed the muscles and blood vessels, creating a serious and life-threatening condition called compartment syndrome. The wound also had severe contamination from the farm equipment.

Swelling in the arm forced surgeons to make an incision down the inside of Mr. F.'s arm from his middle finger to his elbow. The incision was left open and a vacuum pump installed to withdraw fluid in order to save the arm and expedite healing.

Mr. F. underwent a second surgery Monday afternoon so surgeons could inspect the arm. The swelling had subsided significantly and the surgeons were able to close the incision. Mr. F. was released from the hospital on Thursday afternoon with a good prognosis.

Mr. F. and his wife would like to thank family and friends for their prayers, phone calls, and other assistance during this difficult time.

Bloggers note:

I'm a reporter by trade, and while I was trying to process what happened, I wrote some of this out when I was sitting by my husband's hospital bed. It's easier for me to be objective in "reporter mode." I know folks have been keen to know what happened, so here you have it, just the facts.


  1. So grateful that his arm is going to be okay. xox

  2. Thank goodness it wasn't worse...quick thinking on your hubby's part to wrap it so quickly and seek help. I got "the willies" just thinking of what his mangled arm must have looked like. You are one strong lady too! Here's to a speedy recovery...

  3. oh my gosh anita, how very scary! glad his prognosis is good!

  4. It is a dangerous business, it only takes a second to get in a bad spot. I have to make my self turn the tractor off as it is so tempting to keep it running while you work on something else. Glad he is doing good though he will have a tough time of it for awhile.

  5. So scary for both you and your husband! I can't even imagine. I've heard of these types of accidents in the news before. I guess it's one of those things you think will never happen to you but all it takes is one split second. So glad he has a good prognosis.

  6. This was difficult to read, Anita, because after the intro sentences it was clear to see it was a serious injury to your husband, James. We also have a tractor and several pieces of equipment and the fear is also there that an accident could happen, but thankfully has not. I shared the story with my husband, Pat, and he grimaced at times as he knows this equipment. Glad to read that the surgeries were successful and that J is recuperating and also hope you are doing OK. We are keeping you in our thoughts.

  7. Thanks for sharing this with us, Anita. Good to hear his arm is mending. (((hugs)))


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