Farmer tells of horror ordeal
THREE weeks after Max Horvath spent more than two hours trapped under a slasher, the hydroponics grower is warning other farmers to make safety a priority.
On January 22, Mr Horvath was removing some rubbish from beneath his slasher when the hydraulics holding up the machine failed.
“I was squashed down in a space about half a metre high,” he said.
Mr Horvath was doubled up, with the slasher resting on his back, cutting off the circulation to his legs.
For the next two hours he struggled to stay conscious, sweating and vomiting while he waited for help.
“I watched it get dark. It certainly felt like forever,” he said.
Mr Horvath said while he was trapped he devised a plan on the best way for his partner, Claudia Moffat, to free him.
“I had a fair bit of time to think about how she would react and I was afraid she would panic. I kept thinking about the trolley jack and telling her where it was and how to use it,” he said.
Ms Moffat did not expect Mr Horvath home until after dark.
“I wasn’t that worried because I thought he might have had a planter meeting with one of the neighbours,” she said.
However, anxiety kicked in when Ms Moffat noticed little work was done.
After driving around the property, she saw the tractor.
“As I was looking I heard this tiny voice coming from somewhere and I couldn’t work out where it was,” she said.
Once her partner was freed, Ms Moffat called an ambulance and he was rushed to Bundaberg Hospital.
The next two days were spent in limbo.
“I kind of feared the worst — that he was going to lose his legs or be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life,” Ms Moffat said.
Mr Horvath spent the next two weeks in hospital before being released last Friday.
“They can’t tell me about my left leg and whether it will fully recover,” he said.
Mr Horvath urged farmers to do everything they could to ensure safety while working.
“Double check to make sure it is safe,” he said.
In hindsight, Mr Horvath said he would have pumped up the flat tyre on the front-end loader and used that to lift the slasher.
Ms Moffat said she hoped some farmers learned from her partner’s experience.
“Think for a second before you get under this machinery.”