Dung saves life of farm worker as snow causes cowshed to collapse
A FARM manager was said to be the "luckiest man alive" last night after he escaped with only minor injuries when he was buried alive beneath tonnes of mangled metal and snow when a barn roof collapsed.
Willie Auchnie probably owes his life to the one foot thick layer of animal dung which covered the floor of the collapsed building – it cushioned him from serious injury as the cattle shed fell on top of him.
The roof of the snow-laden barn in Aberdeenshire was threatening to buckle as Mr Auchnie and other farm hands tried to drive 200 cows and 200 calves out of the massive structure at Edinglassie Mains farm at Glass, near Huntly.
Witnesses described yesterday how Mr Auchnie was trapped beneath a huge pile of debris
as rescuers dug with their bare hands and shovels for more than 30 minutes before they found him in the wreckage.
The farm's owner, Malcolm Hay, said: "He is the luckiest man alive. It is unbelievable he is still alive. We thought we had lost him."
Mr Hay said that because of the danger posed by the amount of heavy snow on the roof of the barn where the herd of Aberdeen Angus cross cattle had been sheltering, Mr Auchnie and other farm workers had entered the building to drive the animals to safety.
"It is difficult to say how deep the snow was on top of the roof," he said. "The shed was full of cattle so the snow would have been melting all the time but there was very heavy snow fall again overnight and the snow is 5ft deep round the shed.
"My guys were in the shed chasing them out when the roof started to collapse. Unfortunately my farm manager didn't get out and was caught in the roof collapse."
Mr Hay, farm worker William Mckenzie, and a game keeper on the estate raced to try to rescue Mr Auchnie, a married father of two children.
He said: "We knew roughly where he was and we just started to dig in that area with our hands and shovels, but when you are looking for a body in a shed that big it is not that easy. Then we saw the corner of his boiler suit and managed to get him out."
Mr Auchnie, he said, had escaped with only a suspected broken arm and broken collar bone.
"I think he was saved by the muck," Mr Hay said. "There was about a foot of muck in the shed and, if it had been recently cleaned and it had been down to the concrete floor, he wouldn't have been alive."
Mr Hay added: "We have taken all the animals out of all the modern sheds. Curiously, all the old fashioned slate roofed buildings are fine. It is just these modern box framed sheds that can't stand this amount of snow."
Mr Auchnie was recovering from his injuries at Dr Gray's Hospital in Elgin last night. At least one calf was killed in the collapse but the bodies of more animals are feared to have been buried under the debris.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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