Derek Mead’s death a freak fork-lift accident caused by his dog, coroner rules
PUBLISHED: 11:54 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:54 23 November 2018
Derek Mead was killed in a ‘tragic’ accident after his dog knocked a lever which sent a farming vehicle ploughing towards him at his home, a coroner has ruled.
The 70-year-old died while working on his farm.
The highly-regarded businessman, farmer and politician was killed at The Laurels, in Hewish, on June 4, 2017 after being pinned against a gate by a Manitou farming vehicle – and was later found by his devastated son Alistair.
Mr Mead suffered spinal fractures and asphyxia after being crushed by the forklift truck-style vehicle, which did not have the handbrake on but was left in neutral when he exited the cab to open a gate.
But as he went to unlock it to complete some landscaping in his garden, his Jack Russell is deemed to have knocked a shuttle stick - similar to a car indicator, but instead determines the direction of the Manitou - causing the vehicle to drive forwards into Mr Mead, according to assistant coroner Dr Peter Harrowing.
The inquest into the Mr Mead’s death finished at Avon Coroner’s Court in Flax Bourton today (Friday) ended with Dr Harrowing concluding there was no other reasonable explanation for the accident.
He said: “He was using a Manitou to retrieve some topsoil on his land.
“Sadly, while he was very experienced in using the equipment, the most likely explanation is a dog in the cab moved the lever which caused the vehicle to move and trapped Mr Mead against the gate, causing injuries which he could not survive.
“This was a very tragic accident, and I share my condolences with the family.”
Mr Mead, who lived in Hewish, was a well-known figure in political, agricultural and business spheres.
He was involved in companies including Mead Realisations Ltd and Puxton Park, and was re-elected to serve on North Somerset and Weston town councils in 2015.
But it was a farmer he was best known, winning a huge number of awards and playing an instrumental role in bringing the dairy festival back to Weston seafront in 2015.
* For full details, see Thursday’s Weston Mercury.