GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — “24 Hour News 8 Daybreak” Thursday checked in with a West Michigan farmer who was stripped of his clothes and left bleeding in freezing temperatures during a tractor accident.
On Dec. 7, 2013, Tim VanderZwaag was working in a field at his Olive Township farm when he slipped and fell onto the power take-off (PTO) shaft of his tractor. PTO shafts spin to provide power to tools attached to the tractor and can be extremely dangerous when in motion.
In VanderZwaag’s case, the PTO caught on his clothes and spun him with it at more than 500 RPM — as fast as a helicopter propeller. Finally, he was thrown free of the machine, which had stripped his clothes.
“Within seconds, I had gone from completely clothed to just one rubber boot left on my right leg,” VanderZwaag told 24 Hour News 8 in January. “Naked, laying in the snow.”
The temperature was 14 degrees and VanderZwaag suffered multiple broken bones.
Despite that, he managed to climb back onto his tractor and drive to the road, where he saw a firefighter and was soon rushed to the hospital.
VanderZwaag is now known as the “naked farmer,” but he said he and his wife don’t care what people call him. They’re just glad he is alive.
Watch the video above as 24 Hour News 8′s Emily Linnert talks to VanderZwaag and his wife in our studio about his ordeal, recovery and an upcoming benefit concert for him.
Pianist Eric Genius will perform at Borculo Christian Reformed Church at 6464 96th Ave. in Zeeland at 7 p.m. Friday . All of the proceeds will go to VanderZwaag’s family. Donations can also be made at any Fifth Third Bank branch to the Tim VanderZwaag Beneficiary Fund.