Tayside and Central Scotland

Machine lurched killing forester, Stirling inquiry hears

An experienced forester was killed after a large forestry machine "lurched" forwards, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.

Ewan MacGregor, 59, of Callander, was working in a forest at Brig O'Turk when he died in February 2012.

The machine, known as a forwarder and used to transport timber, was later found in fast-forward mode with the handbrake off.

The inquiry heard that it was fully loaded and weighed up to 25 tonnes.

Mr MacGregor was working for Perthshire-based Corrieri Timber Ltd, the inquiry at Stirling Sheriff Court heard.

The company's owner, Victor Corrieri, said Mr MacGregor had "years of experience" using forwarders.

Mr Corrieri told the court that there had been an "ongoing intermittent issue" with the fuel pump of the machine involved in the accident.

He said: "Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't."

'Rapidly forwards'

Mr Corrieri said that, two or three days before his death, Mr MacGregor picked up a replacement fuel pump and took it away, saying he was going to fit it to the machine - but it transpired this was never done.

Mr Corrieri said: "On the day of the accident I got a phone call saying there had been an accident, and Mr MacGregor had been a fatal casualty.

"I went immediately to the job.

"The police and the ambulance service were on site when I arrived.

"I didn't believe it. I went up the hill to see for myself. I went straight to Mr MacGregor, then I went into the cab of the machine and took out a jacket and covered him up."

Before the accident, Mr MacGregor had been banging on the fuel pump to try and start up the forwarder, Mr Corrieri said. The machine was also on a slope.

Mr Corrieri said that a few days later he went to move the machine from the site, so it could be taken away by the Health and Safety Executive for investigation.

Before he did so, an HSE inspector insisted that the new fuel pump should be fitted, he said.

He went on: "I later discovered why the machine had moved so rapidly forwards.

"The parking brake wasn't on. It was in four-wheel drive, not eight-wheel drive, and in high ratio."

He added: "It ought never to have been in that gear or that ratio on that hill in that situation. That would explain why it lurched."

The inquiry, before Sheriff Wiliam Gilchrist, continues.

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