About 10:30 last night Stan and Joe were bringing the combine back to the home farm to service it. They were going down a gravel road that narrows in some spots. Stan stepped on the brake to slow down and the auto steer engaged and abruptly swung the combine into the left ditch. The ditch is not deep but there is a steep drop off into it. The left 1/2 of the corn head went into the ditch while the rest was still up on the road. This brought the combine to an abrupt stop and caused the combine to tip forward snapping off the hear and throwing Stan and Joe forward. The steer column held Stan in the combine but Joe went through the windshield.
Joe had grabbed onto the door handle as well as the something else with his right hand - this slowed him down so that the glass had exploded out before he went through. When he came back to his senses lying on the head platform he was still holding the door handle. The door is gone. It had exploded out as well. The combine came back down so hard that the back tires exploded and the rims are bent up. Fortunately, we were able to get the head somewhat attached to the combine and we limped the unit into the our neighbor's field.
We are not sure why Joe is alive today. All Stan and Joe have are cuts and bruises. I am not a person to where my religion on my should but I must tell you it is only by the Grace of God that these two guys are still alive.
After we had the unit off the road I called my dad to have him come down to help assess and calm down the guys. As my parents arrived at the scene friends and neighbors materialized out of the dark to help us. Realizing that the the combine was in pretty tough shape there were hugs and a few tear knowing that the situation could have been a lot worse.
It was a freak accident. But then again most farm accidents are freak accidents. We will be investigating to figure what caused the auto steer to engage. So all combine drivers please be extra careful out there as we all head into the home stretch of harvest.
Last night before we even left the accident sight we had an offer from a friend to use one of his combines. This morning we have had phone calls from more neighbors and friends offering up their equipment even though they are not finished with their crops yet.
Standing out in the field in the dark, I knew Joe and Stan were ok and equipment can be replaced. But, when Nicholas, Mom, Dad, Derk and Jared showed up it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. This is why I live in rural Iowa. We had an accident and people came not to gawk and stare but to help and give comfort. Not too many of us slept last night. I spent most of the night thinking about all the what ifs, then remembering that we are watched over and thanking God for all that we have.
Here are a few pictures of the combine this morning.