Tractor crash survivors out of body experience

(In article talks about as his life hung in the balance, feeling his late parents, one on each side, lift him upwards towards a light).


Bruce McHaffie has ongoing issues from a tractor accident in 2001 but says it's not hard to find someone worse off.


January 15, 2020 - Reported [here]. As Bruce McHaffie's life hung in the balance, he felt his late parents, one on each side, lift him upwards towards a light.

Thrown from the tractor he was doing his daily farm work from, the machine then hurtled 10 metres down a bank and rolled over him. McHaffie was later told by medics he had died and been brought back to life several times.

He felt his late parents, one on each side, lift him upwards towards a light. People were lined up to the left and right, some he knew and some he didn't.

"It was peaceful . . . as I passed the line of people one stepped out of the crowd and said 'send him back, it's not his time'."

Immediately, McHaffie was back in the paddock, screaming in agony.

With the weather closing in and the location of the incident, on a 647 hectare farm, St John ambulance staff had difficulty locating McHaffie. The conditions also made it impossible for a rescue helicopter from Christchurch or Timaru to get to him. A helicopter pilot from Mt Cook judged that he could make the trip and arrived 90 minutes after the incident.

During this time McHaffie died and was brought back to life several times.

"It made me believe there are other things happening, that we don't know about," he said.

The helicopter took him to Timaru Hospital where he stayed for a few months. He spent a year in a wheelchair, then on crutches, then used a stick. His convalescence took two-and-a-half years.

To his advantage, but also a source of frustration, was his fitness level before the crash. He had easily crutched sheep for 10 hours then gone mountain bike riding and competed in the 36-kilometre Pass 2 Pub mountain bike race most years.

"I couldn't do anything . . . I couldn't even get out of bed . . . It was hard."

Sandra was working fulltime and visiting as often as she could but he would not remember his wife had been in and had to be reminded by staff.

Once discharged from hospital with a hospital bed to use, depression set in. Antidepressants helped lift his mood but being "old school" he stopped taking them after a few months.

"The hardest part was being useless."

One day he was in his wheelchair, and feeling down, in the heart of Timaru when he came across another wheelchair user who had no arms or legs.

"I had everything [limbs] they just weren't working properly. That was a real eye opener."

He lost about 30 kilograms and clung to the thought of how lucky he was to be alive and planned to complete the Pass 2 Pub once again.

After attending a pain management course at Burwood Hospital in Christchurch, his family comprising two sons, had to move out of the farm cottage they lived in. Fortunately friends invited them to live rent free at a house in Fairlie for about nine months until they bought their own in Geraldine in 2003. That same year McHaffie completed the Pass 2 Pub.

He started working again, this time as an engine salesman, and for the past 10 years as a parts person for an agriculture machinery company.

Things were looking up and running smoothly but more bad news was to come when McHaffie's beloved Sandra became ill in January 2014, and died of cancer in the July. The pair had been together 35 years, meeting at a party in Timaru when they were in their 20s.

"I was always going to get better but she never was."

He is grateful he was able to be there for her and said his workplace was "very sympathetic" giving him time off to look after his wife.

Still in pain he wears a back brace every day and can't really run anymore but despite these limitations he has learnt the following lesson.

"You never have to look far to find someone worse off."