'There was no door on the cab, I fell out and the wheel rolled on top of me. I was six'
Farm Safety Week
A clear line needs to be drawn on family farms between the home and the yard to help save children from injury or death, warns a young woman who was left paralysed following a farm accident.
Kerrie Leonard (26), from Culmullen, Co Meath was accompanying her father on his tractor when she fell from the vehicle and was rolled over by the tractor wheel when she was six years old.
“It was the May Bank Holiday weekend so I would’ve been at home. I was a tomboy as a kid and always on the farm and like most kids I’d always be sitting on my parent’s knee on the tractor. That weekend I was bouncing up and down on the tractor. There was no door on the cab. I fell and the wheel rolled on top of me.
“I remember being blind for 30 seconds following the fall and panicking about that but my sight came back in less than a minute. My arm pit was split open and I could see my shoulder socket. It was traumatic. I could walk for 24-hours after the injuries but my spinal cord started swelling and I became paralysed,” she said.
According to the Heath and Safety Authority in the last 10 years 23 children have been killed as a result of farm accidents. Kerrie finds this alarming and thinks that it’s about time “a clear distinction” is made between the farm yard and the home.
“You need to be vigilant and fix things that need to be repaired in time. Safety can lapse very easily because the workplace and the home are very much intertwined. A clear distinction needs to be made between the farm and the home. It’s very difficult to do that but tools need to be put in place to make it as safe as possible,” she said.
Following her accident, Kerrie spent eight weeks in Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin and had a further eight weeks of rehabilitation in Dun Laoghaire. Fast forward 20 years, Kerrie has a degree in equine science under her belt from Maynooth University, holds Ireland’s student archery record and is hoping to compete in the 2020 Japan Paralympics.
The Meath woman cites her parents, organic suckler farmers, Edward and Jacqueline as the reason behind her ability to “keep going”.