Digger driver lucky to be alive after tree smashes into cab

RESCUE: Emergency services at the scene of an accident in Grandchester in which a tree fell on the excavator driver, breaking his leg.
RESCUE: Emergency services at the scene of an accident in Grandchester in which a tree fell on the excavator driver, breaking his leg. Claudia Baxter

AN EXCAVATOR operator's leg was crushed by a tree as he worked on a dam wall at a rural property west of Ipswich.

The 52-year-old was operating the heavy machinery when a 9.5m tree he was clearing crashed into the cabin, breaking his leg.

Workmates rushed to help as the fallen tree pinned him to the cabin at a property on Hogans Rd in Grandchester.

Emergency services said the injured man was lucky the incident didn't claim his life.

The impact almost knocked the man out of the cabin, and emergency services used harnesses to support his body weight as they worked to free him.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Ripley station Officer Ian Bland said if the tree, which had a 30cm diameter, hit the man's torso he might not have survived.

"When you have a tree of that size come crashing through, he was lucky that it caught him and he was unlucky that it caught him. If it came through high it could have hit his chest or abdomen," he said.

"The group around him did quite well in stabilising him when it first happened."

It is believed the man was reconfiguring the dam wall on the property off Grandchester-Mt Mort Rd.

The tree came through the cabin as he removed vegetation from the dam wall at 11.40am.

The Laidley QFRS crew arrived and with the help of co-workers stabilised the man.

The crew cut off one of the tree's branches and used the Jaws of Life to cut into the excavator's hydraulic controls to free his fractured leg. It took the QFRS nearly 90 minutes to free him from the cabin.

Queensland Ambulance Service administered pain relief to the injured man during the operation.

Once free, the man was transported to the PA Hospital by the EMQ helicopter at 12.40pm. The cause of the accident is being investigated.



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