Mother recalls son's tree death horror
A MOTHER has told an inquest of the horrifying moment a tree crashed down onto her three-year-old son in high winds, killing him instantly.Benjamin Davey was being pushed by his mother Veronica Deri through Felixstowe woodland during the October 27 storms last year, the inquest at County Hall in Ipswich heard.
By Danielle Nuttall
A MOTHER has told an inquest of the horrifying moment a tree crashed down onto her three-year-old son in high winds, killing him instantly.
Benjamin Davey was being pushed by his mother Veronica Deri through Felixstowe woodland during the October 27 storms last year, the inquest at County Hall in Ipswich heard.
In a statement read to the coroner, Miss Deri said she heard a crack and then "froze" as the 75ft ash tree crashed onto Benjamin's pushchair.
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Miss Deri, of Looe Road, Felixstowe, immediately tried to pull the branches away before grabbing her lifeless son and running to a nearby car park. A passer-by drove them to Felixstowe General Hospital, but he had died of severe head injuries.
Earlier Miss Deri had said she thought they would be more sheltered by the strong winds in the woods.
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"It was like walking against a wall. I thought when I entered the trees that it would be more sheltered," she said.
A jury yesterday recorded a majority verdict of accidental death.
After the hearing, Suffolk Coastal District Council, which manages The Grove woodland where the tragedy happened, said it had since introduced new procedures.
Council solicitor Hillary Slater said they had worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive to test and develop severe weather strategies.
She said: "Trees will always be at risk during storm-force winds, and this unfortunate accident was sadly one of several across the country during the last year.
"As a result, we anticipate that for the first time national guidelines will be issued recommending that more detailed records are kept about trees in woodlands."
The inquest heard the wood was open to the public on the day of the storm even though some parks in Ipswich had been closed because of the strong winds.
Suffolk Coastal said it had not received the severe warning issued by the Met Office before the storm because its contact details had not been added to the Met Office database, even though it had submitted them last July.
But signs telling of high winds would probably not have been put up at the wood even if the warning had been received as it only stated there was a 50% chance of winds causing "disruption" in the area, the inquest heard.
David Carmichael, a tree officer with the council, said the ash tree that fell had been suffering from honey fungus, which was endemic in woodlands.
But signs of the fungus in the tree were not apparent when council staff conducted their quarterly safety audits in the wood in April and July last year.
In a statement read on behalf of Benjamin's family after yesterday's inquest, solicitor Duncan Brown said they would like to thank friends and family for the support they had received throughout the tragedy.
"The tragic loss of Ben has been devastating to both of them," he added
After the jury returned its verdict yesterday, Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean said: "Benjamin's mother clearly thought that when she got to the trees there would be shelter. What took place was clearly a very tragic accident.
"It may be of some small solace to the family that from the split second of impact, Ben would not have known what was happening."