Gail Watson and her husband Daniel Watson, who died in August this year following a farming incident on their Murray Upper property.
Gail Watson and her husband Daniel Watson, who died in August this year following a farming incident on their Murray Upper property.

Widow’s dispair over farming life struggles

A FARMER'S wife, who held her husband as he lay dying following a tragic farming incident, believes he was distracted by the job when he went out and didn't return.

Gail Watson despairs there isn't anything that can be done to save lives because the very nature of the farming industry is both dangerous and a real struggle.

This comes has Workplace Health and Safety investigate at least six farming incidents across Far North Queensland this year, four of which were fatal.

On Wednesday a man in his 70s received a significant leg injury after he was run over by a tractor at East Palmerston.

Daniel Watson, riding a quad bike, struck a trailer parked on the side of the roadway after going out about 7pm on August 13 to check the irrigation system on their Murry Upper farm, about 23km south west of Tully.

The 50-year-old was fatally injured but managed to walk about 100 metres to a tractor, which he'd tried to drive home but instead it rolled down an embankment. This was where his family found him.

"He said his tummy hurts and I gently stroked his stomach area and he said on no that hurt," Mrs Watson said.

The father-of-seven died about 10 minutes later.

"I talked to him and I'm pretty sure he could hear me because he talked back to me for most of it. It was only the last minute or two that he couldn't really talk," Mrs Watson said.

"I told him I loved him and god would look after us and it's ok to let go.

"I think he heard all that."

She said it was a "senseless" death that most likely came about because he was distracted by the struggles of the job.

Just over a year before, in May last year, Daniel was seriously injured in another farming incident after a slasher fell fracturing his pelvis and dislocating his knee.

"He was still recovering from that… even before this accident happened," she said.

And at age 28 Daniel also lost an eye in another farming incident.

Owning a family farm could be a "harassing business" and Mrs Watson said Daniel would spend long hours fixing their machinery because they can't afford new equipment.

"He was often up late all through the night, checking the irrigator," she said.

"It's a constant pressure on his mind to keep the machinery in good working order.

"I get the feeling that he was concentrating on the job at hand rather than looking in front of him and that's what caused him to not see the trailer until too late."

When debts weren't paid Mrs Watson said farmers were left to just "make do" because there wasn't any protection.

"People on the farms, they need legal protection, they need cover and they need agencies that can help them sell their produce that are independent," she said.

"We'd have the money and the means to make sure our equipment is safer.

"I just think that farming itself should be held in higher esteem by our society."



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