An elderly farmer died after he was thrown through the window of his tractor cab soon after the vehicle hit black ice, a family friend said last night.
William ‘Willie’ Mehaffey, 81, from Lisnargh Road, Dunamanagh, was driving a blue New Holland tractor near his home when the one-vehicle incident happened at 12.30pm on Boxing Day.
David Patterson, who worked with Mr Mehaffey on the farm, said: “What happened on Boxing Day came as a terrible shock to us all. I went to see where he was and I found him on the road, although I wasn’t the first on the scene.
“His tractor hit black ice on the road, it slipped on and went into the ditch and went over. He was thrown out of the cab and through the window. The tractor landed on top of him.”
Mr Patterson, who is married to the late farmer’s niece, said: “He worked on the farm every day and was what you would call a devoted farmer. He worked there and he died there.
“He was devoted to the cause and would not have done anything until his stock was seen to. He enjoyed it. He had generally good health for his age and enjoyed life.”
Mr Patterson said that Mr Mehaffey, who had lived with his sister Margaret, “had a good Christmas”.
“The whole family were up here in his home on Christmas night and we all had a good time,” he said. “He liked having the family around him on Christmas night, his nieces and nephews and the children.
“He was mad about the wee’uns and liked to see other people enjoying themselves.”
Mr Patterson, who “worked on the farm part-time keeping an eye on things” said Mr Mehaffey “was not the type of man who could lie in the house and retire”.
“That would not have happened,” he added. “He had cows and sheep and he kept all his calves for 30 months and they almost became pets. It was a sizeable farm and he made sure everything was done 100 per cent.”
A funeral service for Mr Mehaffy will be held on Sunday in his home house with burial afterwards in Saint James Church of Ireland graveyard in Donagheady.
Farmers Union President Harry Sinclair said he was “very sorry to hear about a farming tragedy over Christmas”.
“Our thoughts go out to his family as they try to come to terms with what has happened,” he added.