Belfast Telegraph

'I felt it was my fault when James fell out of tractor... we were so lucky he survived'

Dad relives the day his son nearly died in emotional farm safety video

By Chris McCullough

A dairy farmer from Co Antrim has told how his eight-year-old son nearly died when he fell out of a tractor and suffered serious head injuries

Wallace Gregg, from Old Frossess Road near Cloughmills, tells his story on a video released by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) in a bid to highlight the dangers to children on farms.

In an emotional recollection of the incident, Wallace said: "This was my fault.

"I shouldn't have had him in the tractor."

The farmer and dad-of-four said the incident also made him realise how accidents can happen so fast and that it was, in fact, illegal to allow children under the age of 13 on a tractor.

The accident happened on October 26 last year.

It was just another ordinary day on the Gregg farm. It was the first day of the Halloween school holidays and Wallace's two sons James and five-year-old Simon were out on the farm with their dad.

Wallace explained he had a Massey Ferguson 5470 tractor that needed some work and he was going to take it to the mechanic, and his two sons wanted to go with him.

"The two boys got into the tractor cab. Simon was sitting on the seat beside the main seat and James was standing just inside the cab. We were driving down the road and we were chatting away and laughing away," he said.

"At one stage we hit a bumpy bit on the road. James stumbled against the door and fell out. It's about 1.5 metres to the ground.

"I stopped the tractor as quick as possible.

"James was lying semi-conscious on the side of the road. I rang for an ambulance straight away."

He also called his wife Joan to tell her what had happened.

"It wasn't one of those phone calls you want to make. It was a very worrying time.

"He (James) was then put into an induced coma, basically to protect him from the head injury. He was on a life support machine.

"He had a double fracture of the skull."

James spent that night in intensive care. Over the following months he thankfully made a full recovery.

Wallace said: "Farmers feel proud that their boys are interested in the farm and you want to encourage that. But believe you me, when I was sitting beside that hospital bed in intensive care I did not feel proud at all. I felt this was my fault. I shouldn't have had him in the tractor. Or I should have grabbed him. I should have stopped him.

"But it was too late. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye and after that you have to live with the consequences."

For the family, it is a lesson learned, and one that they want to emphasis to other farmers and children about the dangers that can be encountered around farms and machinery.

"We are very lucky he has recovered in the way he has considering the seriousness of the accident," Wallace added.

"After the accident I have since learned that the legal age for children to be allowed on tractors is 13 or over."

HSENI's head of farm safety Malcolm Downey said: "The latest survivor story by Cloughmills farmer Wallace Gregg highlights the important message of child safety on farms.

"This video message comes at a crucial time as school summer holidays are upon us and is a good reminder to all farming families to be vigilant and ensure young ones are kept away from danger at all times.

"This video is the fourth survivor story to be produced with the assistance of farmers with real life messages as part of the Farm Safety Partnership's commitment to raise awareness of key dangers on farms."

Watch the video at

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