Crush victim's death judged as accident

ACCIDENTAL death was the verdict after a trucker reversed his lorry, crushing an Ipswich dock manager to death against a forklift.An inquest at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday heard that Robert Sands died in the operating theatre on January 15, the day he was rushed to Ipswich Hospital with extensive internal injuries.

ACCIDENTAL death was the verdict after a trucker reversed his lorry, crushing an Ipswich dock manager to death against a forklift.

An inquest at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday heard that Robert Sands died in the operating theatre on January 15, the day he was rushed to Ipswich Hospital with extensive internal injuries.

Remorseful trucker Christopher Baker told a jury how he had visited the hospital after the tragedy to see how Mr Sands was.

He said he had seen the transport manager at IAWS fertilisers on Cliff Quay, smoking a cigarette by the office.

But he didn't spot him later, standing behind the HGV, as he reversed to leave the yard.

Mr Sands, 42, from Milden Road, had been talking to forklift driver Charlie Waring, who had loaded Mr Baker's lorry with bags of fertiliser.

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Mr Baker, who declined to speak after the verdict, said: "Generally people look out for each other and themselves, and that works. On this occasion it didn't, obviously."

He told the jury there had been no separation between pedestrian and vehicle movements in the yard, and lorries usually moved off as soon as they were loaded. But he denied he had been in any hurry.

The court heard Mr Waring had not noticed the lorry slowly reversing, and it did not have a warning siren fitted although its hazard lights were flashing.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean said: "The first thing he knew about it was Robert Sand's body being pressed against the side of his forklift truck.

"Mr Baker's lorry then moved off – he clearly became aware somethinghad happened."

First aid was given by trained worker Barry Grey, and resuscitation continued once an ambulance crew had arrived.

Mr Baker said: "I had no idea Robert was in the yard.

"I had no feeling there was any danger. I thought the fact that Charlie's forklift truck was there, was an asset," adding that he thought Charlie would move out of the way.

The inquest also heard from vehicle inspector Lawrence Green who said the G-reg lorry had a rusty suspension pivot and a broken rear-view mirror, but neither contributed to the accident.

Detective Constable Derek Riley said Mr Baker had seemed upset after the accident.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Daniel Curtin said the IAWS had been recommended to review safety in the yard, and had introduced several new measures including a radio link with forklift drivers.

He said decisions about whether to take further action would be made once the HSE's investigation was completed.

Mr Sands left a wife Lorraine, and two children aged seven and 11, who were left absolutely distraught by the tragedy.

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