Tractor driver narrowly escapes death

A tractor driver has narrowly escaped death after snagging a 50,000-volt power line.

Simon Mabin (pictured) from Dean Prior, Devon, was ploughing on the family’s 170-acre dairy farm on Tuesday (16 March) lunchtime when he realised the tractor was buzzing and sparking.

The fallen power lines were lying just inches above him on the cab roof and caught up behind in the ploughing gear.

“I didn’t know what to do, so I rang mother. I was stuck in the cab and the tractor was fizzing and buzzing,” Mr Mabin said.

“I asked her to get someone to switch the power off.”

Unaware that 400 homes in the area had been blacked out by the incident, Mr Mabin sat still waiting for help.

But then he spotted smoke and realised it was time to make his move.

Miraculously he made it without managing to touch anything live.

“I thought at first that I couldn’t get out, but then I realised I had to and so out I went. I just didn’t think about the electric shock and leapt as far away as I could,” he said.

“I’m quite a laid-back person, so I didn’t really panic, but when I saw the smoke, I just thought I’m not staying in here. I didn’t have a clue if I was safe or not.”

It turned out the smoke was coming from one of the tractor’s tyres, which had exploded when the charge hit.

Minutes later another also blew as the power continued to surge.

Police, fire and ambulance crews were soon on site and engineers from Western Power were despatched to repair the lines.

Mr Mabin and Western Power are in talks about the cause of the cables’ fall.

“I was reversing away from the power pole and got maybe 15ft away when the cable fell onto the top of the cab,” said Mr Mabin.

• Read Health and Safety Executive advice on accidents with powerlines.