My brother got his first helicopter ride yesterday - not quite in the way anyone would want to get a ride - but at least he is ok. Kind of wish this family of mine would just find another profession! Thought I would just put the article here.....
Ready to winch: The scene near the accident site in the Koromiko Valley with the Westpac rescue helicopter ready to pull Shannon Beard to safety.
Shannon Beard thought he was dead when he woke after rolling 200 metres into the Koromiko Valley in his log skidder.
The 31-year-old logging contractor crashed off a skid site above the valley near Picton about 9am yesterday.
A paramedic was lowered from a helicopter to assess and immobilise Mr Beard so he could be winched out and flown to Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim.
Amazingly, the logger suffered only a broken shoulder and ribs and cuts to his head.
Lying on the couch at home in Spring Creek last night, the father of three young children said he had thought he was dead.
He was not certain how the accident happened. A log he was pulling kicked out, dragging the back of his skidder over the side of the hill, he said. "I felt it go over the first three or four times and I put my hand over my head. Then I must have passed out. When I woke up, the guys were all round me."
His partner, Kelly Beard, feared the worst when Mr Beard's brother phoned her. One of his brothers was killed in a car crash in 2005 and his father lost his right leg in a logging accident in 2010, so when she heard the helicopter had been called to take her man to Wellington Hospital, she desperately hoped it wasn't true.
"I thought he [Mr Beard's brother] was lying. I hoped he was lying. But he wasn't. The words ‘helicopter' and ‘Wellington' do not sit well in this house."
Fortunately, the injuries were not serious and once the paramedics had made sure he had no internal injuries, they decided to take him Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, about 10am, where he was treated and discharged late afternoon.
Despite being shaken by the near miss, the couple were able to crack a joke about how Mr Beard had been wanting to go for his first helicopter ride.
"It would have been all right if I could see out the window," he said with a grin.
Still groggy from the events of the day, Mr Beard said the full nature of his escape had not hit him yet.
The hospital had said he would be off work for a few weeks, but Kelly was sure he would not be sitting round for long.
"He will be hunting or fishing by the end of the week. The kids will soon scare him outside."
The forestry site is owned by Marlborough Regional Forestry and managed by Merrill and Ring.
Merrill and Ring forest manager Murray Turbitt said the skidder Mr Beard was in probably saved his life.
"They're designed for roll-over. They've got all the protection built in and he was wearing his seatbelt. It's some comfort that it does the job it's designed to do, I guess," he said.
An Occupational Safety and Health forestry officer visited the site yesterday and it would be up to the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry to decide when the site would reopen for work, Mr Turbitt said. Plans were made to recover the skidder in the next day or two.
Mr Beard's family logging crew, K & S Beard Logging, were a very experienced crew, who had had only one other serious accident in the eight or nine years they had been working for Merill and Ring, he said.
Westpac rescue helicopter crewman Julian Burn said he was amazed Mr Beard wasn't more seriously injured.
He put Mr Beard's survival down to him having been able to stay in the cab of the skidder