Dad’s horror of son slashed by mower

GALLERY: Click or flick across the photo to see more pictures, including the shocking sight of Joel's stint on the operating table. 

A BORDER father yesterday described his shock at accidentally running over his son with a ride-on mower.

Daniel McLean reversed into Joel, then aged 3½, at the family’s hobby farm at Wirlinga.

“As I was mowing up and down the slope I came back and I felt a big bump, and it wasn’t until I looked down that I noticed Joel was under the mower,” Mr McLean said.

“You hear of getting the strength of 10 men and you do — I had to pull the mower off and pull him out.

“There was a lot of blood.

“It was a very traumatic experience. 

“My other boy, Keith (Joel’s twin), saw the whole thing.

“It was one of those things, I had mown the lawn hundreds of times and I thought the boys were inside.”

Mr McLean’s wife, Tammy, believed her son would lose his mangled left forearm. Daniel has since had six repair operations on it.

“I heard Daniel yelling and ran around the corner of the house to see him holding Joel’s arm together,” Mrs McLean said.

“As there was too much blood, we knew we couldn’t wait for an ambulance and drove straight to Albury Base Hospital.

“I did not think he would still have an arm, but hoped he would still have a leg.”

Mr McLean was speaking at the launch of a mower safety campaign at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

The McLeans’ experience is something the hospital’s plastic surgeon Associate Professor Bruce Johnstone wants to avoid, after treating numerous injuries caused by mowers.

“In the past 12 months we’ve operated on five children who have been critically injured after falling from, or falling behind a ride-on mower,” Professor Johnstone said.

“These are horrific injuries, often requiring amputations of limbs and extensive skin grafts.

“The victims are typically boys aged about four who face ongoing surgery and problems into early adulthood.”

Mowers should never be considered a “ride” for children.

“Ride-on mowers are not recreational vehicles,” Professor Johnstone said.

“We want parents to treat any area in which one of these machines is being used as a no-go zone for their kids.”

Professor Johnstone attributes the increase in injuries to several factors, including a rise in the number of hobby farms utilising ride-on mowers and the increasing affordability of ride-on mowers.

He also says the behaviour of retail staff at the point of sale is a concern.

“I’ve heard stories of ride-on mower retailers demonstrating to customers how to disengage safety mechanisms that cause the blades to stop turning when the mower is in reverse,” Professor Johnstone said.

The McLeans agree wholeheartedly with the safety message, saying children should be indoors during mowing.

“You should have them locked in the house,” Mr McLean said.

“You just can’t stop them. It only takes a second.”

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