Man run over by tractor: 'I shouldn't be alive'

Man run over by tractor: 'I shouldn't be alive'

LORANE, Ore. - Michael Matchulat was at his job on a farm picking up hay with a 8-ton hay baler machine less than two weeks ago when he needed to fix something underneath the back of the baler.

He thought he parked it in neutral before he got out.

But the baler was still in first gear and moved forward, crushing Matchulat's upper body.

"This tire ran over me from right to left and it was like Rice Krispies in my body," the 28-year-old said. "Just crunch, pop, crunch, pop, pop."

His ribs were crushed, and his lungs collapsed.

"I only thought 'What do I need to live?' and that was breathe, breathe these tiny little breaths of tiny air that I could," said Matchulat.

Matchulat's girlfriend's mother - Viki Doughty - works on the farm and was there that morning.

"She just happens to be there watching, called 911. Otherwise, they'd just find me there ... dead," Matchulat said. "I would have been alone if I hadn't waited that two hours, so I would have just been found."

Matchulat, who also works for the University of Oregon Department of Public Safety, used his experience in crisis and medical situations to stay calm.

He gave Doughty information to relay to 911 operators.

"From the medical training that the U of O has given me, I was able to know that one of my lungs had collapsed," he said. "I had what was called pneumothorax and I needed medics right away because normally you die within 15 or 20 minutes."
    
Matchulat said that within minutes, crews from Lorane Rural Fire, Cottage Grove Fire Department, South Lane Medics and a Life Flight helicopter were there on scene. He was flown by Life Flight to Riverbend Medical Center. 

"I can't say enough about the whole system here, how quick it is and how fast everyone got to the scene," said Matchulat. "They're all amazing."

Matchulat believes a lot of miracles happened that day. "I shouldn't be alive. I don't know how I got to the hospital so fast," he said.
 
Matchulat said he still has months of recovery, but he's thankful to be walking and alive.

"I definitely think it's a miracle."