TV director dies after slicing own hand with hedge trimmer in tragic garden accident

A prominent Australian TV director has died after a horror gardening accident.

John Clabburn, 52, was using a new motorised hedge trimmer in his family’s garden in Artarmon, North Sydney on Tuesday afternoon.

While trimming a hedge he accidentally cut his hand with the saw, resulting in a serious injury.

The shock of the deep cut caused him to fall from the ladder and land on the ground some three metres below.

Emergency services rushed to the scene just after 5pm to help Mr Clabburn, but he was already suffering from cardiac arrest after losing a huge amount of blood.

John Clabburn, 52, was working in his Sydney garden when he sustained a fatal injury
John Clabburn, 52, was working in his Sydney garden when he sustained a fatal injury

Paramedics were able to stabilise him at the scene before rushing him to Royal North Shore Hospital, but he tragically died later that night.

His wife Melissa said she was still in shock, having expected John to pull through.

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“I heard a branch break, I was in the kitchen and felt something was wrong, and called out to check he was all right,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

Her husband managed to stay calm after being injured, asking her to call an ambulance knowing she suffers from a fear of blood.

Royal North Shore Hospital
He was rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital but couldn’t be saved

“He kept it together for me but I know he would have been in incredible pain,” she said.

Mrs Clabburn did her best to stem the bleeding with towels and a bandage while her husband was rolling on the ground and touching his torso.

“One minute we were admiring how straight the hedge was looking and what a great job he had done, he was so meticulous, he had a great eye for detail, the next John was in an ambulance,” she said.

In a tragic twist, the hedge trimmer that caused his fatal accident had only been bought that day.

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Mr Clabburn was well known within the Australian TV community as a first assistant director, having worked on popular programmes such as Home and Away, Survivor and The Wiggles.

He met his wife on the set of the 1994 TV show Heartland, which starred Cate Blanchett and Ernie Dingo, and the two were married for 27 years.

They have two sons together, Josh, 23, and Lewis, 21.

Other members of the film and TV industry across Australia and New Zealand have expressed their shock at Mr Clabburn’s death and paid tribute to his skill.

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“Sending all my love to your family, and the multitudes of people you worked with in film and tv as a top-class 1st AD,” award-winning actress Susan Prior said.

“You made your job look so easy.”

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