Lawrence woman says she’s lucky to be alive after tractor accident

Twenty-year-old Lawrence resident Bailey Hiersche is grateful to be alive after an accident left her trapped under a tractor for 35 minutes.

Hiersche and her friend, Eli Saffer, 15, were towing a car on July 6 from the yard of a barn on East 1600 Road.

As they were towing the car, it hit a tree stump, which caused the tractor to flip, she said. Because it was an older tractor, it did not have the technology to stop it from rolling.

Saffer, who was directing the car being towed, told Hiersche to jump from the tractor but she did not respond.

“As the tractor began to flip over more, he jumped over the car and pushed me out,” Hiersche said.

As Hiersche fell, she went to catch herself on the ground, which caused her chest and left arm to be pinned under the tractor steering wheel, she said. Saffer managed to pull Hiersche’s chest from underneath the 2,800-pound tractor but he couldn’t unpin her arm.

While Hiersche and Saffer waited for emergency personnel to arrive, Hiersche drifted in and out of consciousness and stopped breathing at one point. Saffer performed CPR and mouth-to-mouth on Hiersche while they were waiting, she said.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical arrived at the scene about 35 minutes after the accident, Hiersche said. Lifestar was called, and Hiersche was flown by helicopter to the University of Kansas hospital.

Hiersche was in and out of consciousness for a few days. The first thing she remembers after the accident is waking up on Sunday, July 8.

“I was kind of shocked I was alive,” she said. “It surprised me.”

Hiersche’s friends joined her at the hospital to show support.

“She’s been really positive the whole time about everything,” said Connor Whitebread, Hiersche’s friend who stayed with her at the hospital most of the time she was there.

Hiersche broke three ribs, and fractured both her shoulder blades and a vertebra in the accident. She also has an infected cut on her right forearm and a laceration on her left bicep that “took off a big chunk of muscle,” she said.

Regaining feeling and movement in her left arm is her biggest concern.

Hiersche left the hospital on Friday and is back home. She is looking at a six-week recovery; however, she remains positive.

“I mean, a tractor landed on me and I didn’t die,” she said. “I’m just very, very thankful and the Lord was definitely watching over me.”

Hiersche was training to go into the military before the accident, and she will have to wait until she recovers to continue. She plans to keep working at the barn, but won’t be getting on a tractor anytime soon.

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