Human Hamster Runs for His Life

By Robin Young (Extracted from an unknown Scottish Newspaper)

A CLEANER told yesterday how he escaped death by "running like a hamster" after becoming trapped in a giant revolving water wheel.

Alexander Sandie stepped into the 10ft.-high steel water wheel at Poldrate Mill on the River Tyne at Haddington, East Lothian, to remove a piece of wood that had become jammed. When he cleared it, water from an open sluice gate above started the wheel spinning. The wheel tumbled Mr Sandie round and round before he managed to pick himself up and start running.

Mr Sandie, 47, a father of two who has worked as a volunteer at the 18th-century mill for ten years, said: "1 lost my balance and it put me on the deck; I was being constantly battered by the slats in the wheel for minutes before I could get up."

"I managed to grab hold of the spindle. just held on for my life, and then managed to drag myself to my feet and keep running to keep up with the wheel so I wouldn't fall down again. 1 was running like a hamster in a wheel."

Fearing that he would drown, if he fell again, Mr Sandie was trapped until a passer-by heard his cries for help and alerted two American clergymen, the Rev Fred Stonehouse and the Rev Howard Davidson, who were preparing tor a service for Haddington Community Church at the mill.

They managed to close the sluice gate and to divert the flow. Mr Stonehouse said: He was just being tossed around and he looked very scared. If he'd tried to climb through the slats in the wheel he could have been cut in half." Mr Sandie was kept in hospital overnight but suffered only cuts and bruises.

Hillary Dickson, a spokeswoman for the Lamp of Lothian Trust that owns the mill, said that the Health and Safety Executive had been informed and a fresh risk assessment was being carried out. She added: "Mr Sandie is a very conscientious volunteer.

We just thank God someone came along and that he was not seriously injured."

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