Multimillionaire farmer crushed to death after pet dog pushed lever inside truck and pinned him against gate
An inquest has learned that his dog knocked the shuttle lever which moves the forklift forwards and backwards, resulting in the crash
A 70-year-old multi-millionaire farmer was crushed to death by a forklift truck after his dog pushed a lever in the vehicle, an inquest has revealed.
Derek Mead was building a rockery near a pond at his home in Somerset, UK, on June 4, 2017 when he was killed in the freak accident, The Bristol Post reported. The dairy farmer had driven his mounted truck to the entrance of his property. Leaving the vehicle in neutral with the handbrake off and the engine running, he went to open the gate, according to BBC News.
However, the vehicle suddenly moved forward, and he was crushed between the truck and the entrance metal gate.
At the time, his pet Jack Russell was in the truck, and is believed to have hit the shuttle lever which moves the vehicle forwards and backwards.
Mead’s son Alistair found his father’s body when he was visiting with his wife and children when he spotted the machine at the gate.
Alistair told The Bristol Post, "We stopped and I could see dad's legs at the front of the machine. The engine was still running on the machine and the handbrake was off. Inside the cab was my dad's dog."
In a statement read at the inquest, he added: “Dad was crouched down facing the machine with his back to the gate as if he had seen the machine coming towards him and ducked to avoid it.” First responders attempted to save his life, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. A post-mortem revealed Mead died of vertebrae fractures and traumatic asphysxia.
A health and safety investigation later revealed the truck was perfectly functioning.
Simon Chilcott of the Health and Safety Executive, the UK government’s agency in charge of monitoring health and safety in the workplace, told the Avon Coroner’s Court that the dog pushing the lever was the only “reasonable explanation” for the incident, BBC News reported.
He explained the shuttle lever can be moved “inadvertently.”
It was unclear whether the dog had jumped up to check where his master had gone, or put his paws up on the door to await Mead’s return, explained Chilcott. “It seems most likely that he has collided with the lever."
According to The Bristol Post, Mead was a “perfectly competent” farmer and there was “no question of his ability to drive such a machine.” he had farmed for decades before he died, and worked on 1,600 acres of land across eight farms.