Young farmer loses hand in harvesting accident

P.E.I. farmer Ben Van Ginkel is on a long road to recovery, but he feels lucky to be alive and thankful for the support of his friends and neighbours.

With one slip, Ben Van Ginkel’s life has changed

Ben VanGinkel now has three children, having celebrated the birth of a son earlier this month. (Family photo)

Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing

P.E.I. farmer Ben Van Ginkel is on a long road to recovery, but he feels lucky to be alive and thankful for the support of his friends and neighbours.

The 23-year-old owns his own farm in Ebenezer, but he also has a self-propelled harvester. A big part of his business is taking that harvester out on the road in the fall to bring in the crop for other farmers. It's a busy time, running for weeks and with a day's work running up to 20 hours.

And that's not the only thing keeping the family busy. Ben's wife Rosa-Lynn gave birth to their third child last week.

On Saturday Van Ginkel was out on a job when something went wrong with the harvester, and he got down to fix it.

"I've done it before, a lot of times, and anyway, I missed the position of my foot and I slipped, and my hand fell into the knives," he said.

"I was just lucky there was one of my hired help beside me that looked after me because [the] bleeding was real bad, and he wrapped up my arm and brought me to the road to get to an ambulance."

He was taken to hospital but the hand couldn't be saved.

Help from neighbours

Van Ginkel is now out of intensive care, but he is still in the hospital and dealing with a lot of pain.

The harvester is still out in the fields, operated by an employee, and VanGinkel is doing his best to run the business from his hospital bed.

But he and his wife are far from alone in their troubles. Neighbours are showing up to help out at the farm, and Ellen Peters, who lives next door, has helped launch a GoFundMe campaign.

Peters is not a farmer herself, but has always been impressed with their work ethic and sense of community.

"We live all around farmers and we appreciate all the hard work," she said.

"I find them all to be very, very hardworking and humble people. And like, they're such a tight-knit community."

By Wednesday morning the GoFundMe had raised more than $30,000.

A long road to recovery

Van Ginkel is still coming to terms with how his life has changed, and how quickly.

"It's going to be a big change for me. I don't know exactly how I'm going to run the harvester without my right hand," he said.

"[It] just happened so fast. I don't even remember it all."

There are about three weeks left in the harvest season and Van Ginkel is keen to get back to it, but he has been told his recovery will take some time. He is only just out of ICU and has not yet started rehabilitation.

In the meantime, he is thankful for the support of his community.

"The amount of messages and phone calls and people have seen me is beyond," he said.

"I don't even have words to say how appreciative I am of it."

With files from Island Morning


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?