Maple syrup producer lucky to be alive after accident

Maple syrup producer Brian Bainborough is lucky to be alive after he was involved in an accident at his business, Maple Ridge Farm, in Gordon/Barrie Island, last year.

GORDON/BARRIE ISLAND – Maple syrup producer Brian Bainborough is lucky to be alive after an accident at his business, Maple Ridge Farm in Gordon/Barrie Island, last year.

“After the accident and being pinned under a tree, I was on the ground just trying to gather my senses and realized I was still alive,” Mr. Bainborough said of his harrowing accident last year. “I was pinned down on the ground and laying there; I thought, ‘the sky looks a lot like heaven, and I know I’m not in heaven.’”

His farm accident took place on April 26, 2020. “I was cutting some trees and clearing some brush and was going to cut a tree in the way before getting to the widow-maker (a large broken tree),” he told the Recorder. “I had all the necessary protective clothing on and equipment needed. I’m one of the safest guys there is when I’m cutting (trees and brush).”

“There was a widow-maker there so I went to clean around it,” said Mr. Bainborough. That is when a large piece of the broken tree came down and hit him from behind. “I never heard or saw it coming,” he said, explaining the tree pinned him on the ground.

“I had my cell phone on me and I called Jack Clark (of Gore Bay) to help me out and called the ambulance. Jack helped me get out of the bush, and called an ambulance,” said Mr. Bainborough.

“My scapula (shoulder) had been shattered in four places,” stated Mr. Bainborough. He pointed out, “even 11 months later I’m not quite back to where I should be (with the shoulder).”

“Stuff happens in a second,” stated Mr. Bainborough, noting in the accident he had also had his ankle torn up pretty severely.

When he was taken to hospital, first to the Mindemoya Hospital and then to Sudbury, “they didn’t do anything with the shoulder. The doctor told me that they could either replace the shoulder or have an operation. But they first recommended that they leave it for a little while and see how things were going. The breaks in my shoulder aligned, so the doctor advised just leaving it like that. I was lucky, I never had to have the operation.”

Mr. Bainborough pointed out, “the care I was received was excellent, and we are so lucky to have the Mindemoya Hospital. And, I was also able to see a specialist quickly in Sudbury (hospital). I had a cat scan done and the doctor was back with the results in about 25 minutes.”

Producing syrup comes with its share of hazards, both from the tools of the trade and the towering trees themselves.

Mr. Bainborough is a skilled chainsaw handler—he has to be with his business. “I’ve been running a chainsaw since I was 10 years old, so I’ve had over 60 years of experience and I’ve never had an issue. But things can happen in a second.” 

“The key point of all of this is that you need to be safe, take all safety precautions when doing this type of work, tell people where you are and take your cell phone wherever you go,” continued Mr. Bainborough. “And don’t do anything like cut brush or wood trees alone if you can help it. Be safe.”

Since his horrific accident, Mr. Bainborough “bought a tractor with a skidding winch. I had to spend $40,000 on this piece of equipment that will ensure I’m safe and that this type of accident won’t happen again.”  

“I’ve learned you can never be too safe, and that things can happen in a second,” stated Mr. Bainborough.

The widow-maker had hit Mr. Bainborough over the back, and “four inches either way and there is a chance I wouldn’t be here today.”