A 35-year-old Cork farmer whose hand was sucked into a combine harvester as he tried to free grain clogging up the machine has sued in the High Court.
Gearoid Hurley today told the court after his hand became trapped he was screaming in pain. His employer tried to manually reverse the mechanism with a wrench but was unsuccessful and it was nearly an hour before his hand was freed after firemen cut through the auger of the machine.
His counsel, Dr John O'Mahony SC, told the High Court the injury suffered was “absolutely horrific” and Mr Hurley was in “gigantic and overwhelming pain.”
Counsel said Mr Hurley had been due to inherit the family dairy farm outside Bandon but despite the heroic efforts of hospital doctors his right hand is compromised and he cannot work as a dairy farmer.
“Farming was his life and soul and his exclusive commitment,“ Dr O'Mahony said.
"He will never get back to the sunny side of the street in relation to his life.”
Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that generations of the Hurley family have farmed on the land outside Bandon since 1740.
The farmer, who was 32 years of age at the time of the accident three years ago, has since taken over an outside tillage farm and his sister inherited the family dairy farm.
Gearoid Hurley of Mallowgaton, Bandon, Co. Cork, has sued Mark Troy, an agricultural contractor of Knockroe, Bandon, Co. Cork, and the agricultural company Ardkeena Agri Services Ltd also of Knockroe, Bandon, Co. Cork, as a result of the accident on September 16, 2016, on land in Brinny, Inishannon, Co. Cork.
Mr Hurley was working for Mr Troy at the time and was attempting to manually unclog grain from a combine harvester when it was claimed the auger of the machine was allegedly activated by Mr Troy.
Mr Hurley has claimed he was allegedly requested to unclog the combine harvester in dangerous and hazardous circumstances and the auger of the harvester was allegedly activated in circumstances in which injury was likely to be caused.
He has further claimed there was an alleged failure to train or supervise him adequately.
Mr Hurley's hand was pulled upwards and was crushed. The claims are denied.
Mr Hurley, who has a degree in business and management, told the court the plan was that he would inherit the farm when he was 35 years of age, but due to his injury he cannot now work on a dairy farm and his sister has inherited the family farm.
He said he has taken over an outside tillage farm. He said on the day of the accident he was working for Mr Troy.
He said Mr Troy put his hand up to take out the clogged barley and asked him to do it.
He said the combine harvester engine was left running while the attempts to unclog barley took place.
He put his hand up the pipe to unclog the grain but said Mr Troy got in the cab of the combine harvester and engaged the auger.
"I began screaming. I was calling out to him to stop the machine, my hand was entangled," he said
"I screamed turn everything off. He did and I said get my hand out."
Mr Hurley said Mr Troy then used a wrench and pulley and tried to manually reverse the mechanism but "I stopped him because the pain became unbearable."
He told Mr Justice Cross:
"I could not see my hand I said for God's sake ring the fire brigade to cut me out of this."
Blood, he said, was running down his sleeve into his pocket.
When the fire brigade and medics arrived it was decided to build a platform from pallets so Mr Hurley could lie down.
He said there was a discussion at one stage his hand may have to be amputated.
He said he was relieved to see his hand was still there when he woke up in hospital, but the pain was "unbelievable" and indescribable".
He says he has very little grip now in his right hand which used to be his dominant hand and can't pick his phone from a flat position or tie his laces.
He has also suffered flashbacks and nightmares after the accident.
The case before Mr Justice Kevin Cross continues tomorrow.