Daughters, neighbor save man after 3,000-pound tractor flips upside down, pinning him beneath it

Jeff Smith was pulling a stump from his garden near McDowell Creek Park on Monday, but his mud-caked boot slipped off the tractor’s clutch. The machine flipped

upside down and on top of him.  

The steering wheel pinned the 36-year-old to the dirt, pressing into his chest.

He yelled for help. “I was losing more and more breath every time I screamed,” he said.

His daughters, just home from school, were walking the family’s dogs.

“We heard, ‘Save me. Help me, God,’” said 14-year-old Haylee Smith, an eighth-grader at Hamilton Creek School.

She and her sister Hannah Smith, a 16-year-old sophomore at Lebanon High School, raced to their dad and called 911.

And then they lifted the 3,000 pound tractor enough so their father could wriggle  and get the machine off his torso.

“It was almost instantaneous relief,” Smith said.

“If these two hadn’t have been here to hear me,” Smith added, his voice trailing off. “They saved my life.”

His arm was still pinned underneath the tractor, however.

The girls tried to dig Smith’s arm out but hit dirt that was too compacted.

A neighbor heard the commotion and came over to try to help.

Hannah got on a four-wheeler and retrieved another neighbor, who brought his own tractor and used its shovel to completely free Smith.

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An ambulance arrived and took Smith to the hospital, where he was treated for a broken left wrist and other injuries, such as compression wounds on his arm. Because of nerve damage, he said his left arm feels like it’s asleep.

Before the ambulance ride, Hannah said she called her mother, who initially thought it was some sort of April Fool’s Day joke.

Smith said he was impressed by how composed his daughters were during the emergency.

Hannah laughed and said she was so panicked she was turning purple.

“I just can’t believe it happened, honestly,” she said. “We were supposed to go to a friend’s house. I don’t know why we didn’t.”

Haylee said she pulled a muscle in her leg lifting the red tractor — which the family has now nicknamed “Satan.”

Hannah, who said she got an adrenaline rush when she needed some extra strength, was worse off the next day.

“I felt like an 80-year-old getting out of bed,” she said.  

Smith thanked his neighbors. They not only responded to help, but they retilled his garden and finished removing the stump.

That sort of response is why Smith moved his family out into the country again about a year ago.

Lebanon Fire paramedic Nick Tyler, who responded to the incident, said the teenagers helped buy time for their father.

“These type of crush injuries on your chest can really prevent someone from breathing,” Tyler said.

He added that in the course of his job, he occasionally learns about people doing heroic things during emergencies.

“They are few and far between, especially extraordinary situations like this,” Tyler said.

“But I’ve never seen two young girls lift a tractor off anybody before,” he said.

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Kyle Odegard covers public safety for the D-H. He can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or kyle.odegard@lee.net.