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12th Jun 2023

‘I was crushed by a tree and survived after my beloved dog dug me free’

Steve Hopkins

‘He was really working hard to get to me’

A dogwalker survived being crushed by a falling tree, after being freed by his elderly Yorkshire terrier.

Malcolm Myers was walking 10-year-old Buddy on Wednesday when a horse-chestnut tree came crashing down as he passed the Sowerby Institute, near his home in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, around 1.45pm.

The 63-year-old was struck on the back and neck by branches and was buried by foliage after first hearing a sound like thunder.

The semi-retired businessman managed to free himself thanks to Buddy – and is now planning to take legal action against the person or authority responsible for the tree, which was in a garden.

The ex-bodybuilder says the tree could have killed someone less physically fit, and is thankful to have escaped with bruising.

“I’m very lucky to be alive,” Myers said, recalling how he just heard “this sound like thunder cracking” before he was struck while out enjoying a “nice leisurely walk” with his companion.

“The doctors don’t know how I survived. It has been horrific,” he said.

Myers said his size and fitness probably saved his life:”I’m an ex-bodybuilder and quite a big guy. If it had been anyone else they wouldn’t have survived. I’m very sore and tired, there will be a solicitor instructed next week.”

Buddy sprung into action when his master was struck, with Myers crediting the hound with saving “my life”.

Buddy saved the day by rushing to help his master.

“He came to my rescue,” Myers explained.

“He came running up and started digging me out.

“I’m having flashbacks of his head under a branch as he was digging, he was really working hard to get to me.

“It’s a massive tree.

“The main bit smashed into my back, sending me to the ground.

“Another branch smacked me in the back of the neck.

“Adrenaline was kicking in, while the dog was frantically digging to get to me.

“He made an area where I could see daylight.

“I was in darkness.”

Myers said he managed to get ahold of Buddy’s paw, “he is a very strong little fella”.

“He managed to help me get through. I didn’t lose consciousness but it was just darkness.”

After the ordeal, Myers went straight home and had a cup of tea.

The next day he went to the GP, who feared he had spinal damage, but X-rays showed he had only suffered bruising.

Myers said: “The doctors were amazed I was alive. I have got bruising and soreness, the trauma of it is coming out now. They said it will get worse before it gets better. “

North Yorkshire Council’s interim head of highway operations, Jayne Charlton said it is investigating after a tree “in a private garden and landed on the neighbouring public footpath”.

Charlton added: “A member of the public alerted us to the incident, which we responded to immediately, closing the footpath while the debris was cleared.

“We received a further report that a man walking his dog was hit on the back by a large branch, while a smaller one struck him on the head.

“We have made contact with the landowner to inform them of their responsibilities with regard to the tree, which is subject to a Tree Preservation Order.”

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