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Harnett County Man, Pinned By Tractor, Digs Himself Out With A Hammer

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HARNETT COUNTY — Old tractors and old tractor parts are just part of the landscape on the Butler family's land in Harnett County.

"That's a 1934," says Otis Butler, pointing out an ancient machine. They use them for farming, and last Thursday, Butler's son William used one to pull his car out of some sand.

The tractor still lays where it landed, upside down, on top of William Butler.

"You can see that this stuff here is pretty well (hidden) by grape vines," his father says, moving the vines aside to show a stump. "The rear wheel hit this stump and got airbone more or less. He landed under the gas tank. He dug himself out with this," he says, holding up a hammer.

The 3,000 pound tractor wasn't going up, so William dug down, and after an hour and a half, dragged himself out.

"The Good Lord was really with him," says his father.

"I drug myself," Williams says. I did not use my legs at all."

"He drug himself (to the garage)," says his father, "reached around and grabbed a ladder and threw it."

The only one to hear the noise was William's sister, Corinna.

"I opened the door and looked out and saw him (on the floor in the garage)," she says.

The tractor cracked William Butler's pelvis and pinned his legs. He has spent eight days recovering at Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford. Friday, he returns home.

"My pelvis isn't shattered or broken completely, but it's all cracked up," he says.

If he didn't die from the crushing weight of the tractor, William feared he might burn to death.

"The engine oil was leaking out and everything, running into this hole," his father says. "(The battery) could have sparked out any time and set it on fire."

"That's why I knew I had to get out," says his son. "I had to do something."

Tractors will always be part of the Butler's farm, but they may look different.

"I'll never operate one of these tractors on this place again without roll bars," says his father. "That's a definite fact of life. One of the stupidest things you can ever do is to operate one of these tractors without a roll bar."


Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Julian King, Web Editor

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