A DELIVERY man was crushed to death by a 300kg gate deemed in “poor condition” seven years before, an inquest heard yesterday.
Appearing before Gwent coroner David Bowen in Newport, a jury heard how Ronald Paul Hayward, a 42-year-old delivery man from Merthyr Tydfil for Abercynon-based Garth’s Bakery, died on October 26, 2011.
At around 4.40am, Mr Hayward was making his first delivery at . He opened the gate to gain access and after leaving, left his van to shut the gate. It was then the gate fell on top of him causing the fatal injuries.
A statement was read out from Sam Meringolo, whose house backs onto the delivery area of Blackmore’s. Struggling to sleep, Mr Meringolo was up watching television in the early hours of October 26. After hearing a lorry drive down the lane, he heard a short high-pitched scream.
Putting his head out of the back bedroom window, Mr Meringolo said he heard a voice saying: “I can’t breathe.” He called the police who arrived soon after.
PC Simon Richens’ statement was read to the jury. On arriving he said he saw the vehicle with its lights on, engine running and driver’s door open. He then saw the gate on the floor and on moving closer, realised a body was trapped underneath. He checked for vital signs of life, but found none.
Detective Inspector Justin O’Keefe said CCTV from the depot showed Mr Hayward entering and leaving through the entrance without hitting any part of the gate or gate post. He said the 300kg steel gate fell due to failure of the manual gate hinge.
The court heard how on April 4, 2004, a driver had hit the gate damaging it. Ten days later the gate was fixed by Birmingham Garage and Industrial Doors Ltd, but the fitting report stated: “Gates are in poor condition – recommend replacement.”
No further work was carried out on the gate between this and the time of Mr Hayward’s incident.
James Davies, a specialist inspector in mechanical engineering said: “The hinge arrangement was inadequate. Had the hinge been inspected regularly, the gate could have been repaired.”
The bolt fixing the fabricated repair bracket to an angle iron failed due to fatigue. The bracket was then only held in place by one other bolt, which eventually failed on October 26, 2011, the inquest heard.
A post mortem examination revealed the cause of death to be traumatic asphyxia. A unanimous verdict from the jury concluded death by misadventure.