Farmer pinned under tractor for two hours, spotlights job's dangers


One of the most dangerous jobs around is also a job that's got long roots in East Tennessee.

It's a risky job Loudon County farmer John "Speedy" Hewett knows well.

One day earlier this year, he noticed his tractor starting to roll downhill and ran up to stop it, but it kept rolling right over him.

"The left wheel caught my left ankle. The tractor went to the left, hit a tree, about the time the wheel covered my left leg," he recounted. "I couldn't get it off my leg. I was pinned under there. I looked at my watch and it was 6 o'clock. I stayed under there until 8 o'clock."

Since Speedy works alone on his farm, he wasn't rescued until his wife came home.

"A lot of times these guys are out here by themselves and if something happens to them, you're fortunate if somebody does find you," said Farm Bureau Insurance Agent Bart Watson.

Speedy's especially fortunate considering the statistics.

"$300 million worth of loss every year in Tennessee -- $300 million -- from tractor accidents and farm accidents," said Loudon County UT Extension Agent John Goddard.

Ten percent of Tennessee's farm income is lost every year to injuries, and that's just financial loss. Farm accidents account for 75 deaths and about 8,000 injuries annually statewide.

"Almost every piece of equipment they use, if used improperly, can maim or kill you," said Volunteer Tractor Owner Chris Hughes.

In a profession where everyday is a workday and every job requires strength, someone else has to start where another stops.

"That's the reality of it. If people don't pitch in and you go down, you're probably going to lose your business," Watson said.

That's why Speedy's so grateful for his friend, Ben Simpson.

Simpson took care of Speedy's chores for months.

"It's just the right thing to do," Simpson said. "We've all had close calls, gotten careless. So I knew how it could happen."

Other neighbors also came to the rescue.

"I can't tell them how much I appreciate it," Speedy said.

Teaching him not only to pay attention to being a farmer, but also to being a friend.