Man seriously injured in 4×4 winching event near Peterborough calls for greater safety measures.
Neil Granger, 50, 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. 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. He was unable to breathe and had suffered a broken jaw but there was no equipment on hand to cut the branch, move the truck or release his chin strap.
His co-driver had to run up the hill to get urgent attention waving his arms and shouting but 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.
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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. His injuries included a fractured jaw and loss of an eye, and his chin strap was suffocating him.
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. It’s understood that at least three other similar incidents have occurred since 2016 but no extra measures have been implemented to protect drivers such as side-netting to prevent competitors being dragged or have body parts outside of the trucks. Witnesses to the event also say there were insufficient marshals to man each winching point and insufficient means of communications between the marshals and competitors.
It is also believed that the first aid kits were not sufficient and trained first-aiders involved in the running of the event failed to attend the scene. Neil, from Willingham, Cambridgeshire, 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 have 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.”
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