Tractor pull driver dies in horrific accident

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A DUTCH tractor pull enthusiast died after a horrific accident in front of thousands of spectators at the Bank Holiday tractor pulling contest at Great Eccleston on Sunday.

Jan Van Alphen, 58, was taking part in the pull at the showground on Sunday when he became trapped by the heavy weight he was pulling after a vehicle malfunction.

He was cut free by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and was airlifted to hospital by the North West Air Ambulance but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Tributes have poured in for the father-of-three, who was at the event with his family, from the tractor-pulling community across the world and local officials have vowed to work with investigators.

Spokesman John Eccles, of the North West Tractor Pullers Club, said: "Nothing like this has ever happened before and we are shocked and devastated this has happened to Jan Van Alphen. We would like to send our condolences and sympathies to his family."

Frans Pathuis, from the Dutch Tractor-pulling Organisation, described Mr Alphen as "a well-known" competitor with an impressive list of titles in his own country and across Europe."

The accident has been reported to the Health and Safety Executive. A HSE spokesman confirmed that an investigation is expected to take 'a number of days' to complete.