LUCKY ESCAPE: Boy's leg saved after freak mower accident
THE sound of his son's leg being hit by his ride-on mower's blades will haunt Derek Chappell forever.
The Gladstone dad has nightmares about the incident on April 6 when his 8-year-old son Zane called out for a ride while he was mowing grass at the family's Seventeen Seventy property.
"We're so careful about it, so I waved for him to go over to the tree where I normally pick him up and wait," the father of two told The Observer.
"But he was so pumped he ran straight towards me and because it had been raining he slipped on the wet grass and slid into the mower and his leg went under the catcher," Mr Chappell said.
I still have trauma thinking or talking about it, I even dreamed about it this morning, it was pretty horrific
Mr Chappell's eldest son, 11 year old Kai, had rang for help while he wrapped Zane's leg in towels when he said some amazing coincidences occurred.
Two Gladstone Regional Council workers arrived to check dog registrations who both knew first aid.
"One of the council workers parked the ute out the front with the flashing lights on to help guide the ambulance," he said.
"I knew we were going to be choppered out so I raced back into the house and grabbed some gear and when I came out two ambulances arrived."
He and Zane were then flown by the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service to Bundaberg.
"I could see Zane's foot turning blue and I thought he was going to lose his leg, but the ambulance officer said we might have done enough to save it," Mr Chappell said.
After arriving in Bundaberg they were soon back in the air for surgery at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.
It was an agonising wait for the father and son, with it taking five hours between when Zane was hurt and when he received surgery.
"The trauma surgeons did an amazing job on his knee, only one of the three major blood vessels had been cut," he said.
The full extent of Zane's injuries were a fractured kneecap and the meniscus had been torn away from his knee.
"I was amazed and grateful they saved his leg, but compared to some of the kids at the hospital, Zane had only been scratched, he's a hundred percent repairable," Mr Chappell said.
Mr Chappell found out during their hospital stay ride-on mower incidents are more common than he thought.
He found out in the past three weeks four children had been maimed by ride-on mowers.
A nurse told him, in one of those cases, a boy was sitting on his mum's lap when they hit a bump and he fell off.
"His hand went under the cutting deck and he was maimed for life," he said.
After a week in hospital Zane is back in Gladstone and returned to school last week.
He said he was keen to play football with his team, the Mudcrabs, but for now will just have to make do with following the Gold Coast Suns on TV.
"He can't bend his leg so I've been a bit busy sorting out wheelchairs," Mr Chappell said.
"I'm unemployed at the moment and have had to knock back some work, but my main goal is to get Zane back on his feet.
"I'm just so grateful to everyone who helped Zane, it really was miraculous, everything that happened after his accident just went perfectly."