By Connor Lynch
PETERBOROUGH — Peterborough-area farmer and Cavan-Monaghan township Coun. Tim Belch is happy that he’s in one piece after a grass-cutting accident in late June.
The 57-year-old cash crop farmer was cutting the grass near the laneway leading to his 300-acre farm on a heavy duty industrial riding mower on June 28. He’d only had the 750 lb. machine for a couple of weeks and was still getting the hang of riding it. The salesman warned him not to take it on any slopes as it doesn’t have a roll bar.
Belch was on the shoulder of the 10-foot deep ditch, in the late afternoon. The ground was slick from the near-constant rainfall. When he pushed the wrong lever on the mower, it spun around and before he had time to react the mower flipped over into the ditch. Pinned under the mower, with the weight crushing down on him and preventing him from breathing, he blacked out.
An off-duty nurse, Julie Buchan, happened to be driving down the road, when she saw Belch pinned under the mower, struggling to breathe and slipping in and out of consciousness.
She flagged down a couple of cars. Two men managed to get the tractor off Belch. Paramedics arrived shortly afterwards and Belch was airlifted to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
He spent five days in hospital. Many were tense, as doctors feared that he’d suffered damage to his spine or head in the accident. There was significant swelling in some of the vertebra in his back, with some bleeding into his spine, and Belch was examined by a neurosurgeon, concerned there could be bleeding in his brain.
But Belch didn’t even end up needing surgery. Apart from stiff neck muscles and some broken ribs, he came out alright, he told Farmers Forum. A follow-up visit to the hospital on July 14 gave him “a clean bill of health.
“I feel good, though I’m not up to 100 per cent,” Belch said. “These things happen in a split second. Did it make me feel lucky? Darn right. I’m lucky that I’m not a paraplegic.”