Farmer rescued from slurry tank just as he was about to pass out

George McCall Jnr - who saved his father
George McCall Jnr - who saved his father

A 63-year-old farmer was mere moments from losing consciousness in a vat full of slurry when he was pulled free by his son.

George McCall, a beef farmer and an Orangeman from Co Armagh, had fallen into the underground tank at the weekend after opening the hatch.

George McCall Snr

George McCall Snr

At roughly nine-foot deep, it was just under half-full with slurry – and there was no way to get out unassisted.

He shouted for help, and his son – also called George – came to his aid.

George Jnr, aged 35, hauled his father out along with the help of his cousin.

He estimated that Mr McCall, a married father-of-two and a member of Redrock LOL788, had been in there for between 10 and 15 minutes – and that his rescue was a very close call.

“When I found him, he was standing upright in it,” said George Jnr.

“Someone was looking out for him – whenever I was taking him up the ladder he sort of went unconscious.

“I don’t think he would have kept upright in the tank for much longer.”

The accident occurred at around 5pm on Saturday, at the suckler beef farm off the Ballymacawley Road, Collone, to the south east of 
Armagh city.

Mr McCall was yesterday in Craigavon Area Hospital, able to talk a little, but receiving oxygen.

He had a head injury, sore ribs and a chest infection.

He was described as stable, but his family said he will be kept in for a while.

“I was talking to him last night,” said George Jnr yesterday.

“He can remember being under the slurry and reaching for the wall to get himself up.”

It is unclear whether he had been overcome by fumes or had just fallen as he went to retrieve the slurry – but his son said he does not believe that fumes played a major part.

Asked what lesson should be taken from the incident, George Jnr said: “Everyone will just have to be careful.

“Everyone is rushing around, but if you just take a minute, you’ll get there in the end.”

He added that the task his father had been doing was not a one-man job.

The Health and Safety Executive NI launched an investigation into the incident.

Among those wishing Mr McCall well was MLA Danny Kennedy, who said it was a “huge relief” that the accident had not ended in tragedy.

He branded the incident “another reminder of the dangers involved in farming”.

It happened only a month after Robert Christie, aged eight, died after a slurry tank accident in Co Armagh.

The most notorious such accident in recent years was the triple tragedy involving Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence, his father Noel and his brother Graham.

All three perished after entering a slurry tank at their Co Down farm on September 15, 2012.