Scarred chainsaw man on the mend

SUFFOLK: A man who almost beheaded himself in a chainsaw accident has today spoken about his brush with death.

Tom Connelly, a tree surgeon with the BTS Group, based in Needham Market, survived after cutting through more than a third of his neck and severing his jugular vein.

The 21-year-old fell on to the 12-inch blade, slashing his neck and left arm, after his foot slipped while cutting a branch 50ft up.

The chainsaw cut nearly every blood vessel in Mr Connelly’s neck, and doctors said he was just a millimetre away from fatally severing his vital carotid artery.

“It was an every day job that I had done hundreds of times before,” said Mr Connelly, who lost three litres of blood and now has a 15-inch scar on his neck, stretching from his shoulder blade to his windpipe. “But I was half way through cutting the tree trunk when my foot slipped and I rolled into the chainsaw.

“I was left dangling in the air and I could see blood dripping from my arm. I went into shock, but the adrenaline kicked in so I didn’t actually feel any pain.

“I later realised I’d nearly cut my head off, so I am incredibly lucky to be here today.”

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Mr Connelly, a tree surgeon of nearly three years, was removing a horse chestnut tree from a garden near Wisbech when the accident happened in April.

Colleague Rob Nixon and fellow tree surgeon Jimmy Cooper lowered their colleague out of the tree in less than a minute and bandaged his neck to stem the bleeding.

An ambulance arrived, followed by a Magpas emergency medical helicopter team.

Mr Connelly was sedated and flown to the trauma centre at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where he was given emergency vascular surgery and given 40 stitches to his neck and left arm.

Following a graft to repair the severed nerves in his shoulder, surgeons hope he will regain 90 per cent mobility in his arm in the coming weeks or months.

Mr Connelly was discharged after just five days and was back carrying out light duties five weeks later. “It hasn’t put me off. I want to get back, it’s my job and I love it,” he said.

Mr Connelly’s boss Brian Dow, senior manager of the BTS Group, said: “He shouldn’t be alive, the odds were all against him.

“The whole team worked really well together and I’m very proud of them.”

n Have you survived a dramatic accident and want to tell us your story? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail