Shropshire farmer, 80, killed in combine harvester accident - inquest

An 80-year-old Shropshire farmer was killed in an accident with a combine harvester being operated by a friend, an inquest heard.

George Edward Evans died at his family's Lane Farm in Winnington, Halfway House, Shrewsbury, on August 21 last year, after coming into contact with the machinery.

At his inquest at Shirehall, which was heard by a jury, evidence was read to try to help determine exactly what happened.

The Shropshire Coroner's Court hearing was told that Stuart Evans, a family friend of no relation and a neighbouring farmer, had been harvesting one of George's fields.

The pair noticed that one of the combine's belts was damaged, causing one part of the machine to collect more grain than the other. The court heard that Stuart Evans finished off harvesting the field, before lowering the vehicle's header, while sitting in the cab.

Stuart Evans then saw George in his mirror, trying to get his attention after sustaining serious injuries to his chest and head. Stuart tried to help his stricken friend, and the emergency services, including the air ambulance, were called. But nothing could be done to save him and he was declared dead at the scene.

Tribute

Statements from police and a collision investigator were read out, but given there were no direct witnesses to the incident, nobody could be certain of the exact circumstances. One possible conclusion offered by Health and Safety Executive inspector Andrew Johnson was that George may have been looking to assess the damage to the combine harvester's belt to see if it could be repaired, and was hit while he was looking.

A tribute from George Evans' daughter Ruth Maddox was read out in court, and it was said that Mr Evans grew up with siblings and cousins enjoying country life in rural Shropshire.

He met his wife Margaret in 1958, marrying her four years later. He supported show jumping activities and was committed to serving his community, serving with his local parish council and the Young Farmers Club. It was also mentioned that one of the moments many would remember him for was a heart warming speech he made at a young farmers' anniversary event shortly before he died.

"Farming was his passion and his life," said Ruth in the statement. "He took pride in his stock and was asked to judge on many occasions. He was always happy to support young people."

George's relationship with farming colleagues was described as like "brothers working together".

"With a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, he would always acknowledge you before you spoke to him. He was blessed with grandchildren in 1995 and they adored him. He was a man of the land, family and farming were his life."

After short deliberations, the jury's conclusion was that George sustained head and chest injuries from a combine harvester. The exact circumstances are unclear. The conclusion recorded was accidental death.

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