BLOOD pouring from his leg and pooling around him, Barry Lynch was stranded and in agony with only his late father's pocket knife within reach.
His calf had "exploded" under the pressure of the nine-tonne chemical tank that was pinning him to the ground.
He had left his mobile phone in the cabin of his ute but had his late father's knife.
So, the 54-year-old North Queensland farmhand began digging.
Barry hoped he would be able to dig a trench and slide his trapped leg out from below the tank. The tank, he hoped, would be suspended by the dirt on either side of the trench.
For six hours, with his leg bleeding profusely from a gaping wound "the size of a fist", Barry chipped away at the earth with the small pocket knife.
He used his hat to catch drops of condensation from his tractor's air-conditioning unit to keep hydrated.
Barry had been preparing for a day's work on an East Feluga cane farm about 7.30am on Tuesday when the drawbar of the crop sprayer collapsed on his leg.
With no one in earshot, the veteran farmhand managed to remove his steel-capped boot, but his crushed leg began to swell rapidly.
"The swelling was getting so bad his skin was starting to crack on his leg," his sister Susan Lundon said.
"He was nearly tempted to stab himself in the leg with the knife to let the pressure out ... but just as he was getting ready to do that his skin burst. He's blown a hole probably the size of your fist.
"He said it was just sheer relief, because it released a lot of pressure ... but then the blood came.
"Where he was digging the hole was filling up with blood, so he had to keep swishing the blood away to keep digging the hole."
After six and a half hours, he managed to dig a trench 15 centimetres deep, slide his injured leg free, drag himself to his ute and reach his phone.
Paramedics arrived to find Barry exhausted and barely conscious.
He was flown immediately to Cairns Hospital where surgeons worked frantically to save his leg. He may be flown to Brisbane for further surgery on Thursday, Ms Lundon said.
She said she was amazed by her older brother's survival.
"He has horrific injuries and multiple fractures. His knee is absolutely shattered. And it's the hole in his legs that's now the problem," Ms Lundon said.
Remarkably, the accident happened on the one-year anniversary of their mother's death. And Barry used the pocket knife that belonged to his late father.
"I think they [mum and dad] were with him the whole time. As much as I don't believe in anything like that, I do now," Ms Lundon said.
"He's got a long haul ahead of him, but we will help him every step of the way."