A tractor driver's "forgetfulness" caused an unsecured leveller he was towing to open unexpectedly, smashing a concrete power pole and a length of fence and dropping live power lines onto a busy road near Masterton, cutting power to homes.
"I f***ed up, basically," said tractor driver Bruce Candy, owner of Candy Contractors.
Power was cut to a number of homes in the accident, which happened on Upper Manaia Rd on the rural outskirts of Masterton at about 11.35am. It was a matter of luck that no-one was hurt, according to Sergeant Chris Megaw of Masterton police.
"It's a small moment of inattention and incorrect machine procedure which has resulted in a dramatic incident, but fortunately no-one was injured."
"[I'm] too old - just a case of doing the same thing for 28 years, and forgetting," said Mr Candy.
Mr Candy said it felt like "a tonne of boulders hitting the side of my head" when he was thrown around inside the cab of the large John Deere tractor after one wing of the leveller he was towing "flopped over".
It smashed a reinforced concrete pole, bounced off it and across the road, narrowly missed another pole, then smashed a 10m-length of wire fence and hit the tractor's tyre, puncturing it.
The leveller, used for flattening and spreading soil, has two "wings" which fold up centrally for road transport, and are held in place with hydraulic pressure. Mr Candy said he simply forgot to re-pressurise the unit to hold the wings in place.
Mr Candy, who was uninjured but shaken by the incident, said he was towing the leveller from his home to a job near Masterton airport, and had just fully rebuilt the leveller, which was extensively damaged.
He estimated the damage to the leveller at about $10,000, on top of the $8000 cost of the punctured tyre and the damage to the fence and pole.
Live lines were arcing on the road just after the incident and the fence lines on either side of the road were presumed to be live, police said.
Traffic was diverted while a contractor for power supplier Powerco cleared the lines off the road and secured them.
Mr Megaw said he thought a large number of homes may have been affected as it was a main line; and the cost of the incident would be "considerable", including the cost of calling out the power company.
Mr Candy was insured, he said. Police would consider charges but no decision had been made yet.
Two fire crews from Masterton also attended the accident.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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