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Community prays for recovery after farm accident

Community prays for recovery after farm accident

ALTONA, Ill. — Christi Main knew something was wrong when her son phoned her at work. He doesn’t call unless it is important.

“Dad needs to talk,” Tyler said, passing the phone to his injured father.

Pete Main had been fixing the corn header on his combine minutes earlier, when a piece fell on him, causing a cervical spine injury.

“Dear, I think I’m paralyzed from the shoulder down,” Pete told his wife Oct. 5.

He didn’t know at that moment what the future would hold for him and his family.

Now, two months later, he stands in the kitchen of their Knox County farmhouse welcoming another guest who wants to hear his story.

He drops an item on the floor and gingerly bends over to retrieve it before anyone can reach to help. Everyone smiles.

“This is what answered prayers look like,” he said.

In this season of miracles, the family looks back at how far they have come in the weeks since the farm accident with the help of medical care, harvest help and answered prayer.

The accident

Pete farms 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans and raises pigs with son Tyler and Pete’s older brother Steve.

Pete had been having trouble with the row unit on the corn head, but after some effort in getting the part they needed, a mechanic arrived to help install it. He and Pete started the job following the usual safety measures. Suddenly, a piece dislodged and struck Pete in the head and chest. He fell backwards and hit his head on one of the knife edges.

“I was instantly in pain and what a white out,” Pete said.

His son Tyler, a certified first responder, was working nearby at the pig barn and came running to help. He was acting in first responder mode, stabilizing his dad and calling 911.

“He helped us keep our cool,” his dad said.

Pete remained conscious and wanted to talk to his wife.

Tyler called his mom, a nurse at OSF St. Francis in Peoria, so his dad could tell her about the accident and so she could hear his voice.

“As we left the barnyard I wasn’t very optimistic,” Pete said.

His hands were curled, a sign of paralysis. Pete was rushed by ambulance to OSF St. Mary’s Medical Center in Galesburg. His brother Steve and his pastor Scott Cramer were there to meet him.

Steve is 12 years older than Pete and they had already started transition plans for the farm.

“Maybe this is it. Maybe I will have to retire first,” 57-year-old Pete worried.

He says he had some dark thoughts.

But as soon as the pastor started a prayer chain with members of the Grove Community Church in Altona and other friends, “things started to go better,” Pete said. Soon, he had a little feeling in his feet.

Plans were made to take him by helicopter to OSF in Peoria where his wife works.

“We were surrounded with love,” Christi said.

By late afternoon, he was in surgery for cervical decompression and new hardware — two rods and screws were set in his body.

After a week in the neurological intensive care unit at St. Francis, Pete was moved into an intermediate unit for several days and then into the rehabilitation center.

“He progressed by leaps and bounds,” Christi said.

Community response

A sign out front of Grove Community Church in Altona said, “For Pete’s sake, Pray.” Almost a month later, a new sign cheekily said “For Christi’s sake pray — Pete’s home.”

The church’s Facebook page shared a video of him standing and walking a few steps early in his recovery. He didn’t walk for nine days as the spinal cord healed but was soon walking up stairs to be ready to go home.

Throughout the process, he was thinking about managing the farm.

“He’s very good at giving directions,” Tyler said.

Early on he told Tyler, “The neighbors are going to rally, take the help.”

Tyler followed those instructions.

On Oct. 21, after a short prayer at Main Hitch Farm, seven combines, four or five grain carts, semis and trucks went to work.

“All 380 acres of beans were harvested in five and a half hours,” said Pete, who was still in the hospital at that time.

He was there for 28 days, coming home on Nov. 2. In early December, Tyler said, “He’s still getting along fairly well, lots of therapy still and has been driving a little bit. Answered prayers for sure.”

“Throughout it all, for a terrible thing to happen, it was a positive experience,” Christi said of the kindness of many. The Mains had “a couple of great employees” who accomplished the harvest work with Steve and Tyler.

This is a special Christmas season for the family. Pete said he may not be working with the pigs directly anymore, but he hopes to help with planting and harvest this year.

“We are grateful and thankful,” Pete said.

CropWatch Weekly Update

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Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.

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