KINGSTON – A Kingston man was airlifted to a Rockford hospital Friday afternoon after police said he rode his lawnmower 20 feet down a hill and into the Kishwaukee River while strapped in.
Upon arrival, fire crews found the man still strapped to his lawnmower in the river, dazed, injured and with water coming up to his chest, said Capt. Matt Campbell of the Genoa-Kingston Fire Protection District. Genoa Police Chief Robert Smith also assisted on the call.
“He got too close to the hill and rolled over,” Smith said. “Probably a 20-foot drop.”
Crews responded to a 911 call in the 19000 block of Thornton Drive, made by the 69-year-old Kingston man’s wife about 2 p.m. Friday. A small crowd of onlookers gathered a few doors down Friday afternoon, and watched as a helicopter flew in after crews had rescued the man from the water.
While mowing his lawn near a steep hill behind his home overlooking the Kishwaukee River, the man accidentally drove too close to the hill, causing his lawnmower to roll multiple times on its way down the hill, and then stopped upright in the river, Campbell said.
He said the man suffered a broken right arm and facial injuries, and was airlifted to Mercyhealth Hospital in Rockford.
“He was still strapped in when we found him,” Campbell said. “Where he was, the water was pretty deep.”
Campbell said the man was conscious and alert.
The man was using a zero-turn lawnmower to mow his lawn and strapped in with a seat belt, Campbell said. The mower also had a roll bar, which is designed to protect the driver in the event of an accident such as this.
“We got him on a scoop stretcher to walk the bank, and then used it to walk back up the embankment to get back to the ambulance,” Campbell said. “There’s a little trail just wide enough for the ambulance to get down there.”
By the time the man was removed from the mower, it was submerged, Campbell said. Crews then wheeled him to another stretcher, loaded the injured man into the helicopter and it lifted off.
Campbell said although the man was talking, fire crews called the helicopter because of the extent of his injuries.
“Better to be safe than sorry,” Campbell said.
Source: The Daily Chronicle