Mystery surrounds worker's death

By Liz HearnshawAN 18-YEAR-OLD apprentice suffered critical injuries after he collided with a lorry at work just two weeks after he started his new job, an inquest was told.

By Liz Hearnshaw

AN 18-YEAR-OLD apprentice suffered critical injuries after he collided with a lorry at work just two weeks after he started his new job, an inquest was told.

Trainee trailer fitter Ben Taylor sustained serious damage to his head following the collision at the Turners of Soham depot in Newmarket on March 3.

He died in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, on March 20 of massive cerebral trauma.

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An inquest in Ely heard yesterday Mr Taylor, of Thirwall Drive, Fordham, had become caught between the air tank and rear mudguards of a shunter vehicle, used to tow trailers, as it pulled out from a workshop.

Andy Watling, told William Morris, coroner for East and North Cambridge, he had seen the shunter vehicle start moving forwards out of the workshop, with Mr Taylor walking in the same direction.

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“I looked back and saw Ben between the air tank and rear mudguards of the shunter. I didn't see any reason why he had got himself into that position and I have no explanation for it,” he added.

“The mudguards then hit Ben in the back, knocking him onto the floor. The shunter was still moving and the rear wheels went all the way over him. I was shouting and the shunter then stopped. I could see Ben was seriously injured.”

Mr Watling said his colleague had been wearing standard company issue overalls at the time of the accident, with reflective strips on the arms and around the body.

But the inquest heard Mr Taylor had not been wearing a reflective jacket that was also given to employees at Turners.

Paul Stumpf, who was driving the shunter at the time of the accident, said he had checked his rear view mirror and seen Mr Taylor standing about 10 feet behind the vehicle before it began moving.

“I didn't realise anything was untoward until I felt a judder as if the air brakes had come on,” he added.

“I was not aware of anybody shouting before I got out of the shunter and then I found Ben lying on the ground with what looked like serious injuries.

“I had told him before I jumped into the shunter what I was going to do and do not know why he was so close to the lorry.”

Stephen Hartley, an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive, visited the site following the accident and told the inquest no conclusions could be drawn about why Mr Taylor had become stuck.

He added Turners had not breached any relevant safety laws to cause the collision.

A jury of two women and six men returned a unanimous verdict of accidental death.

Describing the accident as an “extremely sad matter,” coroner Mr Morris said: “It is a mystery as to why it was that Ben Taylor came to be positioned between the air tank and the mudguard of the rear wheels.

“There is speculation as to whether he was engrossed in making a telephone call on his mobile phone, but there is no evidence at all that this is the case and it is therefore very difficult to work out why this tragic event happened.”

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