Driver stuck as mud swallows machine

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 16/06/2014

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The operator of a heavy machine had a lucky escape in the dark after it became stuck in mud that quickly became like quicksand on a property in the Lud Valley.

The Nelson and Hira fire services were called to help rescue the driver, who had managed to get out of the vehicle and on to solid ground by the time they arrived.

Nelson fire service station officer Darren Shackleton said the call came about 6.30pm on Saturday that a man operating a 20-tonne machine had become stuck at the base of the valley on a property off Frost Rd.

Shackleton said it was a "fair hike" to reach the site, but once emergency services had arrived the man was already out. He understood the man had managed to make a cellphone call for help from the cab of the vehicle.

"He managed to get the message out he was stuck, and to bring torches and a rope."

Shackleton said the area the machine was stuck in was like "quicksand" after the man had tried freeing the vehicle from it, and the quagmire had started to suck the vehicle down.

"It was one of the situations that got you thinking, ‘My God, what would you do', but it would have been easy enough to pop a window and haul him out.

"It's one of those situations you don't come across every day."

Hira Rural Fire Service controller Ian Thomas said two engines from there and one from Nelson arrived to help, but luckily were not needed.

"He was out and there was a man there also who had helped. Apparently he got the driver to jump out and he grabbed him as he came out."

Thomas said the machine was stuck in a mud hole in swampy conditions, with the mud up to the windows of the cab. Because it was dark the driver would not have had any idea where he might safely have been able to leap.

Thomas said he had no idea what the man had been doing, but he believed the machine was being used for forestry work in the area.

"He was apparently taking it through a paddock on steep, wet ground and it got away on him. The machine started sliding and sinking and it was not a good situation."

Thomas said the mud was about two metres deep by the time the machine appeared to have settled.

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- The Nelson Mail

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