Posted: 17.07.20 at 06:38 by Derek Davis
Recovery crews worked through the night to rescue a digger stuck in the mud on Shotley foreshore.
Three large vehicles - a Foden mobile crane, and two large rigs. were used in the operation to pull the £70,000 digger to the safety of the higher part of the beach, in a race against the tide.
Crews arrived in Shotley at 2am to start work at low tide and were still on site this morning.
The digger, which had been working on the restoration of the pier with contractors Amicus, became trapped after going for its daily dip to clean off the tracks and inadvertently got stuck.
"He hit a soft spot and got stuck, it is just one of those things," said Dave Gibson, Amicus project manager. "Cleaning his tracks every day in the river is something we do every day. It is so we don't leave any mud or stones on the roads or pavement."
A tractor that went to help the excavator yesterday afternoon. ran out of fuel and could not pull the digger out in time as the tide came in, leaving the red-faced driver having to abandon his expensive piece of equipment.
"He is embarrassed and upset,: said Mr Gibson. "He will get stick, no doubt, but not just yet, it is still too raw for him, but it was just one of those things."
Crews suffered minor set back last night when one of the wires snapped, and the Foden sank into the mud, before being eased back out by the two rigs, which had stayed on the turning circle opposite the Bristol Arms.
With an estimated 180 tonnes of strain needed to pull the digger out from deep in the mud, it was a long and tortuous operation, but the crews clearly knew what they were doing and methodically and safely brought the digger out, watched by a number of interested members of the public at various stages through the night and into the morning.
A scar nearly two metres (six foot) was left on the foreshore as part of the recovery work and Mr Gibson said that would be filled in and made good.
Mr Gibson said: "Another digger will fill that in. Meanwhile another large lorry will come and take the damaged digger away."
It is understood the digger will be an insurance write off and following assessment, will be taken to auction to be sold for spares.
Getting the digger stuck was a poor end to a day when good progress was being made on the pier.
"We got some new beams on and it was looking good," said Mr Gibson.
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