Cambs man whose head was trapped in 4×4 competition calls for better safety measures

A Cambridgeshire man who was left seriously injured after his head was trapped by an accident in a 4×4 winching event near Peterborough has called for greater safety measures. Neil Granger, 50, from Willingham, Cambridgeshire, suffered severe head injuries and serious internal bleeding while competing in the Odyssey Battery Winch Challenge Series at Tixover Quarry near Peterborough in April 2019. The event requires participants to travel to various stations in or around the quarry to punch a card whilst using a winch to help move the vehicle.

Neil and his co-driver had reached a station in a deep hole but when they tried to winch back out, a tree penetrated the window portion of the truck’s doorway pulling Neil’s head out of the vehicle and trapping him between a tree and the vehicle – exerting force onto his head. Click below to sign up for email updates

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He was unable to breathe and suffered a broken jaw. However, there was no equipment on hand to cut the branch, move the truck or release his chin strap. Neil’s co-driver ran up the hill to get urgent attention but said there were no marshals around or any radios to obtain a quick response.

A few fellow competitors heard the cries for help and were able to call an ambulance but there was still no equipment to cut him free. Eventually, another truck attended the scene and was able to pull Neil’s truck away from the tree, allowing him to receive life-saving medical attention from one of the other competitors who happened to be a first-aid trained police officer before the ambulance arrived.

Cambs man whose head was trapped in 4x4 competition calls for better safety measuresNeil Granger suffered severe head injuries and serious internal bleeding

In 2020, about the incident, Neil said: “It was a freak accident. All I can remember was choking.

“I was strapped in and jammed behind the steering wheel, whilst my head was pulled out of the vehicle and wedged between my truck and a tree. “I was being choked by the strap of my crash helmet and the last person I recall seeing was my winchman.” Neil was saved by his helmet, but it could not prevent him from breaking all the bones in his face, losing his right eye and suffering a bleed on the brain.

After being transferred to a major trauma centre in Nottingham by ambulance, Neil was put into an induced coma. Five days later, after a 3D model of his skull had been created, he underwent a 12-hour operation to rebuild his face with 18 titanium plates.

Neil has since instructed specialist serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help investigate the safety measures and to provide funds for his recovery and rehabilitation. His legal team has now written to Viking 4×4 Club, the organisers of the Odyssey Battery Winch Challenge Series.

The same event is due to begin again this weekend for the first time since 2019. Neil, who is currently awaiting specialist appointments for a false eye and continues to suffer with pain and discomfort, says: “I’m lucky to be alive but the next person injured might not be so fortunate. “I know this is an off-road sport which carries a level of risk but as a competitor, you have to trust the organisers to take measures to protect us.

I just want to make sure there are improvements to the safety at these events before someone is killed. “I’m incredibly thankful to my fellow competitors for helping me and saving my life with their actions. I’m now focused on my recovery and rehabilitation.”

Alexander Davenport, a specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing him, said: “Neil suffered severe injuries in a horrific incident during this event. “Were it not for the quick thinking and fortune that one of his fellow competitors was a first-aid trained police officer he would likely have died at the scene. “We’re investigating the safety measures and risk assessments in place as we seek to help Neil in his recovery.

“We’ve heard several first-hand accounts of the event and it’s clear that more needs to be done to protect drivers and we hope that the organisers will learn from this incident to reduce the risks for others in future.”

Viking 4×4 Club was contacted for comment.