Belfast Telegraph

Farming world's Red Adair (82) called in to save digger from bog

'One of the greatest engineering and recovery challenges ever witnessed in the area'

By Nevin Farrell

He's known as the Red Adair of the agricultural world. And that's why Joe Rodgers was the man to call on when there was a 'hole' lot of trouble in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains.

The 82-year-old farmer came to the rescue when an expensive digger was nearly lost after being sucked into a notorious bog in the isolated Glenelly Valley.

Around 400 people gathered to watch and Glenelly man Adrian Kennedy (48) was on hand to capture on camera the dramatic rescue as it unfolded at the rural road running from Plumbridge to Draperstown.

The digger, owned by Cookstown contractor Wesley Hamilton, was on its away across the bog to clear drains close to Goles Forest east of Cranagh village when it got into trouble.

At one point two Hitachi diggers were sunk deep into the bog. A third digger arrived to assist the recovery, but also ended up marooned. Eventually two of the diggers were recovered, but the remaining vehicle was stuck fast.

Mr Rodgers, described as a "legendary recovery expert", was called on and came up with a way to counteract the suction power of the bog using two large tractors, another digger and a 300ft long cable to supply power.

"The recovery effort lasted right through to around 5pm," Mr Kennedy explained. "Many at the scene described it as one of the greatest engineering and recovery challenges ever witnessed in the area, as the owners battled against the clock to save the digger from being swallowed into the depths of the swampy bogland."

And Mr Rodgers oversaw the entire operation on crutches.

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