'​I survived under miraculous circumstances': Tim's tractor tale

FRIEND OR FOE: Tim Silverton with the 1950s Massey Ferguson tractor that almost claimed his life in an accident in February. Picture: Brodie Weeding
FRIEND OR FOE: Tim Silverton with the 1950s Massey Ferguson tractor that almost claimed his life in an accident in February. Picture: Brodie Weeding

Tim Silverton tucked into bacon and eggs on a lazy Saturday morning; half an hour later he thought he was going to die.

There's little reason the Preston man should have survived the accident on his farm that February morning.

"It's what the firies said to me, it's what the police said to me, it's what every single farmer has said to me," he said.

But Mr Silverton did live to tell the tale of how superhuman strength, quick thinking and lots of luck saved his life.

THE ACCIDENT

FRIEND OR FOE: Tim Silverton with the 1950s Massey Ferguson tractor that almost claimed his life in an accident in February. Picture: Brodie Weeding

FRIEND OR FOE: Tim Silverton with the 1950s Massey Ferguson tractor that almost claimed his life in an accident in February. Picture: Brodie Weeding

Mr Silverton's remarkable story of survival starts with the mundane task of moving a caravan out of a gully.

He'd planned to use a ute but decided to fire up his 1950s Massey Ferguson tractor when it didn't work.

Mr Silverton said he had carefully considered how to safely operate the vintage machine the night before but that went "straight out of my head" the day of the accident.

As he tried to tow the caravan, he watched incredulously as the tractor rose onto its back wheels.

"By the time that I could've put my foot down on the clutch or put my foot down on the brake and try to slow it or stop it, it was just too late," he said.

The tractor flipped into the air and Mr Silverton watched the machine crash on top of him in what seemed like slow motion.

"First I heard my leg break and so I don't know what part of the tractor did that but I know it was heavy and I know that it snapped. It was the femur...," he said.

"I screamed out in pain and I just realised with that scream I'd lost all my air because the tractor was on me. I tried to take another breath and I couldn't.

"... After considering all my options and coming up with nothing to get out of this situation, I thought that was it, this is how I die. There was no other way out. And still now it's inconceivable that I could've lived."

SUPERHUMAN SAVIOUR

THE TRACTOR: Tim Silverton plans to restore the 1950s Massey Ferguson tractor. Picture: Brodie Weeding

THE TRACTOR: Tim Silverton plans to restore the 1950s Massey Ferguson tractor. Picture: Brodie Weeding

As Mr Silverton drifted in and out of consciousness, a friend helping to move the caravan raced over

"Next thing I know (my friend) Les is there with his hands under the wheel arch and somehow he's able to lift this thing by himself," Mr Silverton said.

This feat of superhuman strength shifted the tractor enough for Mr Silverton to gasp for air but not enough to free him.

Meanwhile, his wife Jane was in the kitchen when their daughter raced in and yelled "Dad's dead".

"When I looked out the window, I'm like, 'Holy shit, he's dead. That's it, he's dead'," Mrs Silverton said.

Mrs Silverton and Les' wife Shirene raced over to help lift the tractor and by their third attempt, they were able to drag Mr Silverton to safety.

As emergency services began to arrive, Mr Silverton realised he had "made a giant mistake by even considering to use an antiquated tractor to help out in any sort of task".

"It had no roll bar, it was not safe...," he said.

"So I survived under miraculous circumstances and I want people to realise that if they are running the same sort of risks I was, they may not have a Shirene or a Les or a Jane to be able to somehow lift that tractor off."

ROAD TO RECOVERY

SUPPORT: Jane Silverton has been helping her husband Tim during his recovery. Picture: Brodie Weeding

SUPPORT: Jane Silverton has been helping her husband Tim during his recovery. Picture: Brodie Weeding

After a ten-day stint at the North West Regional Hospital filled with painkillers and surgery, Mr Silverton was sent home.

The accident has taken its toll on the family as Mr Silverton was the main breadwinner and has been unable to continue his consultancy work.

Mr Silverton said the family had to sell some cows to make ends meet while they waited for Centrelink payments to kick in.

"We had to sell at a time when the market wasn't crash hot. So we didn't end up getting a lot of money but then again we didn't have a choice," he said.

But the community rallied around the family, with friends and neighbours dropping off firewood and picking up their kids.

"I've got so much support from my local community. It's astonishing. And without that I don't know how we would be able to do it," Mr Silverton said.

The vintage tractor remains on their farm and Mr Silverton said he initially wanted to sell it for parts.

"It took me weeks before I could even look at it again," he said.

But Mr Silverton has come to terms with the accident and returned to his original plan for the machine: to restore the Massey Ferguson to its former glory and display it at shows.

"It's gone from scrap, to giving it away, to wanting to fix it again," he said.