A 70-year-old farmer is lucky to be alive after his tractor rolled down a steep bank on a Turakina Valley property on Tuesday.
After being attended by St John paramedics, the man was airlifted to Wanganui Hospital by the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter suffering from serious leg injuries.
Yesterday the duty nurse manager at the hospital described the man's condition as serious but stable.
Chris Moody, the helicopter base manager and pilot, said the man was "very, very lucky".
Mr Moody responded to a callout about 5.30pm.
"The tractor had rolled down a very steep hillside and very nearly landed on the man," he said. Two other farm workers witnessed the accident and raised the alarm.
Mr Moody said the tractor appeared to have a basic roll cage and without it the outcome could have been much worse.
He said it appeared the driver either jumped or was thrown clear as the tractor plummeted down the hillside.
Mr Moody said he flew to the accident scene with winching gear, expecting to be able to pick up the patient. "But there were a lot of trees around the area so we had to land on a field below that area and the patient was carried out on a stretcher. We airlifted him from there to Wanganui Hospital," he said.
The whole rescue had gone without a hitch with good support from St John paramedics on the scene.
"Overall it was a good job all around," Mr Moody said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said health and safety inspectors were unaware of the accident and would not be investigating at this time.