John McCullagh November 8, 2005
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The following are – allegedly – the actual words from an ‘accident insurance form’. The assessors had been unhappy with the original application and requested more details.

‘In your form, I put down the cause of my accident as ‘poor planning’.
 

You asked that I explain and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am an amateur radio operator and on the day of the accident, I was working alone on the top section of my own new eighty-foot tower, necessary so that the antennae can receive and send signals across continents.

When I had completed my work, I discovered that I had, over the course of several trips up the tower, brought up about three hundred pounds weight of tools and spare hardware.   Rather than carry the now unneeded tools and material down by hand, I decided to lower the items down in a small barrel by using the pulley attached to the gin pole at the top of the tower. 

Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the top of the tower and loaded the tools and material into the barrel.  Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow decent of the three hundred pounds weight of tools.

You will note from my previous form that I myself weigh only one hundred and fifty-five pounds. I’m sure you can only imagine my surprise and shock at suddenly being yanked off the ground and high into the air! Due to my own surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope.

Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the forty-foot level, I encountered the barrel on its descent.

This is when I sustained my fractured skull and broken collarbone.

Slowed only slightly, and now gripping on for dear life, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were lodged two knuckles deep into the pulley.

Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold onto the rope in spite of my pain.  At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of tools hit the ground heavily and the bottom fell out of the barrel.

Without the tools, the barrel now weighed approximately twenty pounds.  

I refer you back to the note of my weight (in block number 11).

In proper accordance with the laws of gravity, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower. 

In the vicinity of the forty-foot level, I met the barrel coming up.

This encounter accounts for my two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs and lower body.  

The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of tools and, rather fortunately – as A&E observed, though in my pained state I could not agree – only three vertebrae were cracked.

I regret to inform you, however, that as I lay there on the pile of broken tools, in pain, and staring distractedly upwards towards the empty barrel caught above at the pulley’s gin, I once again lost my presence of mind.

Succumbing to the pain of my many injuries, I again let go of the rope…

I am reliably informed that the quickly-descending barrel again struck me on the head, though since I passed out immediately, I am unable to give proper testimony to this.’

I have not learned how successful his insurance claim proved to be!

 

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