Tragedy: The Dorrigo farm where the accident happened.
Tragedy: The Dorrigo farm where the accident happened.

Dorrigo mourns toddler tragedy

WHEN disaster grips one family in Dorrigo, it engulfs the entire plateau community.

Locals are still in shock as they mourn alongside the well-known and regarded Beaumont clan following the death of their three-year-old son, Callum.

The toddler was crushed by a hay-baler on a Shepherds Road property at Bielsdown Hills, southwest of Dorrigo, on Wednesday afternoon. Police say it appears he was killed instantly.

“By five o’clock last night (Wednesday) everybody on the plateau knew about it,” said Dorrigo identity and former stock and station agent, Brian Darby.

“Goodness gracious me it is just so, so sad. His mum and dad are just the loveliest people and this will be on their minds for the rest of their lives.

“Everybody up here is just numb.”

Only moments before his tragic death, young Callum had been in the cabin of a tractor driven by his mother, 32, who was engaged in hay-baling contract work on the property with her partner, 38. Police said she noticed a bale of hay had become jammed in the baling machine and before she got out to check she told her son to wait in the cabin.

Her partner came over to investigate the problem and at some stage Callum hopped out of the tractor and was crushed under the hay baler table.

Police said his father raised the table on the machine and tried to revive Callum as paramedics from Dorrigo, Bellingen and Urunga, police from Coffs Harbour, Urunga and Dorrigo, two doctors and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter were tasked to the scene.

However, the youngster could not be revived. Crime scene unit police and detectives were then called in to start their inquiries, which are ongoing.

A WorkCover spokesman said yesterday an inspector had been sent to the property.

This latest tragedy comes after two fatal traffic accidents in Dorrigo and a helicopter crash there that killed a local ranger.

According to Farmsafe Australia, as many as 20 children aged under 15 are fatally injured on farms each year and many more are hospitalised.

The major causes of child deaths and injuries on farms are dams, farm vehicles, machinery, motorcycles and horses.

A study of farm fatalities by the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety found children aged up to 14 years account for 15 to 20 per cent of farm injury deaths and around 66 per cent are male.

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