Farmer crushed to death after dog knocked truck lever

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Derek Mead Image copyright Graham Jennings
Image caption Derek Mead’s family said he died “doing what he loved”

A farmer was crushed to death when his dog knocked a lever inside his forklift truck causing it to trap him against a gate, an inquest heard.

Derek Mead, 70, was building a rockery at his home in Hewish, near Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, on 4 June 2017.

Avon Coroner’s Court heard Mr Mead left the machine in neutral with the engine running and the handbrake off but his pet Jack Russell was still in the cab.

Assistant coroner Dr Peter Harrowing said it was a “tragic accident”.

The inquest heard Mr Mead had stopped at the entrance to a field on his land and is believed to have got out to open the gate.

‘Likely explanation’

His pet dog is thought to have knocked the shuttle lever which moves in a similar way to an indicator stalk on a car and moves the forklift forwards and backwards.

Simon Chilcott, from the Health and Safety Executive, told the inquest there was no other “reasonable explanation” for the accident.

“You can move it inadvertently,” Mr Chilcott added.

“Whether the dog has been jumping up to see where his master has gone, or put his paws up on the door to await the return of Derek – it seems most likely that he has collided with the lever.

“He has jumped up or put his paws up and knocked the shuttle lever, which would have put the vehicle in a forward motion.”

Dr Harrowing reached a conclusion of accidental death.

He said: “The most likely explanation is that the dog… inadvertently moved the shuttle lever, causing the forward motion… which sadly trapped Mr Mead against the solid gate, causing injuries which he did not survive.”

A post-mortem examination found he died from spinal fractures and traumatic asphyxia.

In a statement after his death, Mr Mead’s family said: “He was doing what he loved and had been doing since he was a young boy.”