Norfolk caravan park owner crushed by digger

Grasmere caravan park Image copyright Google
Image caption Donald Peers owned Grasmere Caravan Park with his family

A holiday park owner was crushed to death when a digger toppled on to him, an inquest heard.

Donald Peers directed a colleague to extend the hydraulic arm too far as they worked to cut up a tree at Grasmere Caravan Park in Norfolk.

Mr Peers, 69, of Caister-on-Sea, had been safety conscious but may have made "a mistake" in his calculations because of tiredness, his daughter said.

A jury at Norfolk Coroner's Court concluded his death was accidental.

The court heard the JCB was being operated by Laurence Billington on the morning of 12 February at the camp near Caister.

As the pair tried to remove a tree branch, Mr Peers was in front of the digger and directed Mr Billington - who had no formal training with the machine - to extend the arm using hand signals.

When he felt the back of the JCB lift, Mr Billington tried to rebalance it by retracting the arm but could not stop the machine toppling on to Mr Peers, the court heard.

The bucket and its load of gravel, left over from a previous maintenance job, would have weighed nearly two tonnes.

'Always careful'

Jeremy Knowles, an environmental health officer for Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said the arm had been extended to 4.1m, when its safe limit with that load was 2.3m.

Mr Peers' daughter Elizabeth Blake said her father had been struggling to sleep, and appeared tired on the morning of his death.

"My dad was careful with the JCB and he would always avoid being underneath the arm," she said in a statement.

"I can only assume Dad was tired and made a mistake and found himself underneath the bucket when it tipped."

She described her father, who was a lay preacher for more than 40 years, as "kind, caring, and a man of the church".

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