A GRANDFATHER has told how he nearly died after being stuck under a one-tonne digger for almost three hours.

Bill Smith, 75, was moving bales of hay with the machine at a farm near Brighton Racecourse when it overturned and crushed his left arm.

The impact shattered the bones from his shoulder to wrist, with chunks of flesh ripped out and nerve damage leaving him without any feeling in the arm.

He severed an artery and suffered organ failure and needed dialysis treatment while at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, where he was taken after the horrific accident on July 25.

But Bill said he could have suffered a much worse fate as doctors told his family there was a possibility he could die or lose his arm.

He said his life has been turned upside down but he has lived to tell the tale.

The father of two, who lives in Hartington Road, Brighton, said: “I remember it happening and shouting ‘get this bloody thing off me’.

“It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt and I’m still hurting now.

“But from the moment I got in the ambulance, my mind went blank.

“The digger’s engine was running while it was on me and its diesel was pouring over my face until it ran out.

“It would have landed on my head but I’d installed a roll bar on the digger – I think that’s what saved me.

“I thought I was going to die. I’m lucky to be alive. I can’t drive now. I was good at doing things with my hands and was very active, but I can’t do anything now.”

Bill, a retired bricklayer, was with his wife Margaret, who called emergency services to the farm off Race Hill, Whitehawk, where the couple’s granddaughters have horses.

An air ambulance, paramedics, firefighters and police were called to assist.

They could not move him straight away because it might have injured him further.

While in hospital Bill underwent two nine-hour operations and he has been to see specialists in London.

Bill thanked the emergency services and staff at the Royal Sussex who cared for him.

He said: “I’d like to thank all of them – they were fantastic.

“The surgeons saved my life and the nurses have been brilliant.”

Bill has received a flurry of support from friends and family who have been visiting him both in hospital and at his home.

Bill and his family say they are taking each day as it comes and understand there is a long road to recovery.

Doctors saying it could take years for him to get back to his old routines – if he ever does.

He went for a check up on Wednesday and doctors said his rehabilitation is progressing well at the moment.

“I’m pleased to be here and that’s it,” he said.

“You’ve just got to get on with life.”