John Rufty has been mowing the lawn at North Carolina’s Taylorsville Airport for 40 years, but last Saturday, he had his left hand chopped off mid-duty.
Rufty, 74, was mowing the lawn at the airport’s single grass landing strip, when 84-year-old Edward Sisson was landing his single engine plane. According to reports, Sisson was operating a 1971 Citabria 7ECA, and was flying from Tennessee to visit family in Taylorsville.
State Highway Patrol Sergeant Brian Owenby told reporters that the private small airport does not have an air traffic controller. As such, “Sisson was unable to see Rufty until just before the impact,” and Rufty was not warned about the approaching aircraft.
The plane collided with Rufty’s lawn mower, completely cutting Rufty’s left hand off with its propeller. Both the aircraft and the lawn mower flipped over, with the lawn mower being crushed under the right wing of the plane. Rufty was airlifted to the nearby Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. His injuries are severe but not life-threatening. Sisson was shaken up, but walked away uninjured.
Owenby told reporters that Sisson seems to be competent, adding that there are no charges made at this time.