As my leg was pulled in, I felt the most excruciating pain come over my entire body, from head to toe, traveling through every organ in my body. I don’t believe it is possible to be in more pain than I felt that day. As the pain intensified, I began to do what I call my death scream. Short high pitched screams. I looked up thinking, “Shit, the auger is still on.”
Once again I tried to free my leg, no longer screaming, just trying to get out by pushing off a vertical wall with my other foot. As I did this, my right foot began to be pulled into the auger, which made me panic more, because I believed it could pull my whole body through. Lucky for me, I had slip-on steel cap boots, so I freed my right foot by pulling it out of the shoe all together. Once I freed my right foot, I felt a tug on my left foot, and after that, I knew I was free.
I had no idea what had happened, but I knew I was free. I quickly moved myself to safety, but was still unaware until I looked down at my leg and could only see the tibia bone. My foot was gone. Once I realised what had happened, I went in to shock and my leg started convulsing: I was feeling no pain, just an eerie feeling as I looked at my foot thinking, this is it; no one knows I’m here, I’m going to die today.
My leg continued to bleed and there was no way I could get out of the pit on my own. I thought to myself, “I’m not ready to die, I have too much I still need to do.” The second these thoughts left my mind, one of the workers on the farm found me in the pit, and as my co-worker observed the scene, which I can only imagine looked like a horror scene, he then waved his arms in the air and said, “Oh shit!” I said to him, “Bro, I’m dying.” “No you’re not,” was the response, as he bolted for the emergency kill switch to turn off the machine that took my foot.
He rushed back to the pit to put a tourniquet on my leg. I had no idea why he was doing this because it hadn’t yet registered that I had lost half of my lower leg. Amongst the chaos of the situation, I could see two men running over dressed in orange jumpsuits. I couldn’t help but think of the TV series Baywatch as they ran towards me. They were from Transfield and just happened to be working across the road when they had heard my screams and rushed to investigate. As they pulled me from the pit, I could see the blood from my leg running down the concrete pit. Everyone was in a panic as more people rushed to my aid. It was 45 minutes before an ambulance made it to me. I can only imagine how scary it was for all the people that helped me that day.
At the age of 16, as a high school drop-out and living in my country of birth, New Zealand, I decided I wanted to join the British army. I made the daring trip to York in the U.K. to enlist, but was turned away by the words, “You are too young, come back when you are 17.” I ended up sweeping supermarket floors in a foreign land until I was of age. I returned to the British army being the youngest in my division. I loved it and felt as though I had found my calling in life. After serving my three years in the British army, I, along with a select few others, were asked to sign a contract for 22 years. With no thought or hesitation, I put ink to paper and signed on the dotted line.
Spending much of my time in Bosnia and Northern Ireland fighting against the IRA, I was fully committed to serving under the British army. Four years into my 22 years, my unit and I were driving in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We were driving a Snatch Land Rover and I was standing through the roof doing top cover when a car pulled out in front of us. The driver of our vehicle lost control and our vehicle rolled across the road. I was thrown from the vehicle. My leg was crushed.
After one year of recovery in England, I was sent back home to New Zealand, where I was told I would be taken care of. I had to reconsider my whole life. My army career was over, so I started farming. My leg continued to give me grief and required countless operations, none of which the British government believed they needed to pay for because I was a New Zealand citizen, resulting in my parents remortgaging their home just so I could walk. With the situation later settled in court, I grew so much resentment towards the British government in the time being.
Edited by Bretty Rawson.
Featured image provided by the artist.