Dungannon farmer ‘likely’ to have suffered heart attack before farming accident

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A CORONER has ruled it is likely a Dungannon farmer suffered a heart attack prior to falling into a cattle feeder at his family farm in October 2012.

John McCooey, 76, from Killybracken Road, Dungannon, died after sustaining multiple injuries.

Dungannon Coroner’s Court issued a verdict of death caused by multiple injuries.

Mr McCooey suffered such horrific injuries that his identity had to be confirmed by dental records.

However, coroner Jim Kitson said he was “heartened” on reading the pathologist’s report to learn Mr McCooey most likely suffered a cardiac episode which caused him to collapse.

“There is no other rational or reasonable explanation. Whilst the platform from which he was working was by no means perfect, it was stable and in situ after the event,” Mr Kitson said.

Richard Meredith from the Health & Safety Executive said he had been alerted to a fatal farm incident and attended a short time after Mr McCooey’s body was found.

He said the victim had been accessing a cattle feeder after using a ladder to climb on top of two round bales, from which he was breaking up hay and throwing it in for mixing with meal.

While Mr Meredith said this was not a safe work practice, there was no question the round bales had shifted, causing Mr McCooey to fall into the feeder. The ladder he had been using was also undisturbed.

Issuing a verdict of death caused by multiple injuries, Mr Kitson said: “This is a stark and horrific reminder of the dangers associated with farming.

“Working alone in remote areas with machinery and animals can have tragic consequences. The chances of accidents occurring involving injury and fatality are all too regular.”