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Flying hook nearly hits farmer

Wawanesa farmer warns others not to use a tow rope with hook to extract a stuck vehicle

A Wawanesa farmer was left shaken earlier this month after bolts on a truck he was trying to tow broke, sending a tow rope and metal hook hurtling at him at bullet speed.

The tow rope snapped like a slingshot and the impact of the hook on the end of it shattered the tractor’s fibreglass fender. Pieces of broken hook off the truck were later found about 200 metres away.

Only the angle he’d parked the tractor at kept it from smashing through the cab where he was seated, said Simon Ellis, who captured the whole thing on video.

“The tow rope came flying at the tractor,” he said. “I didn’t have a second to move. It was all over and then I realized what had happened. There was no time to duck or move. If it happens you can’t get out of the way.”

The incident occurred after one of their trucks loaded with fertilizer got stuck in their field May 9. They lightened the load before preparing to pull it out, but didn’t dig out the tires first, said Ellis.

“I think that was one of our mistakes,” he said. They also hooked up to just one and not both hooks on the truck, he added, noting he was feeling rushed at the time.

He’d initially turned on his camera to capture some footage of pulling out a vehicle from the muck. Now he has a vivid record that’s a warning for others how fast things can go amuck.

Ellis said he knows of others hurt in the same circumstance, including a neighbour who was struck on the arm. “It shattered the arm and did a lot of damage,” he said.

No hooks with straps

A University of Manitoba tractor safety tip sheet recommends that tow straps with hooks or chains not be used when extracting vehicles because of the potential for exactly this kind of incident.

“It is recommended that you do not use tow straps with hooks or chains, due to the possibility of them breaking and having a piece flying through your back window,” the document says.

“The metal hooks pose a great safety hazard if you use them to pull out stuck equipment.”

The bumper of this truck was nearly torn off when Ellis tried to pull it out of the mud.
photo: Simon Ellis

Tow straps also do not stretch the way recovery straps do, which make them inferior for pulling out stuck equipment, it also notes. They’re best suited for towing equipment.

Recovery straps, which stretch and also have loops rather than metal hooks, are the recommended means for extracting stuck vehicles. Recovery straps are designed to stretch a bit, which transfers more energy into pulling the vehicle out.

HAVE YOU HAD A CLOSE CALL ON THE FARM? TELL US ABOUT IT. Contact: [email protected]

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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