Limerick Coroner’s Court on Catherine Street
A MAN in his late 80s died in a farming accident after his tractor “rolled over him” when he tried to jump-start the vehicle, an inquest has heard.
Patrick Fitzsimmons, 89, died of bronchial pneumonia after suffering multiple injuries on May 29, 2017, as a result of the accident on May 17 at his farm at Fernhill, Shanagolden.
The inquest into his death was heard at Limerick Coroner’s Court on Catherine Street this Wednesday afternoon.
Inspector Alan Cullen read out the deposition of Mr Fitzsimmon’s carer Anne-Marie Lenihan, who found him on the ground on the day of the accident. She said that she noticed the gate of the farm was open.
She said he was “in and out of consciousness”.
Garda Tina Shanahan, of Askeaton garda station, said when she arrived at the scene, after receiving a report of the incident at 2pm, Mr Fitzsimmons was “unable to explain what had happened”.
She said the deceased had a “significant injury” to his left arm, above his elbow.
Mr Fitzsimmon’s Massey Ferguson tractor was 10 feet from where he was found lying, she said in her evidence.
Listowel paramedic Sonya O’Connor, of the National Ambulance Service, said that no one knew what had happened when they arrived at the scene and that he “never became alert”.
Sergeant David Bourke, a member of the crime scene investigations unit at Henry Street, said that while there was power in the tractor “it would not start” and that it appeared the tractor rolled “uncontrolled”.
Coroner John McNamara said to Sgt Bourke: “It looks like he was trying to jump-start the tractor, effectively.”
Sgt Bourke said that Mr Fitzsimmons “lost his footing” when trying to mount the tractor.
A member of the six-person jury asked the sergeant: “Do you reckon he was trying to jump into it to take control of it?”
Sgt Bourke replied “yes” and that he had left his walking stick in the tractor, indicating that he had “reduced mobility”.
Mr Fitzsimmon’s daughter described to the court her father’s process of entering the tractor, which involved getting into the vehicle “backwards” and that he would have “lost footing or/and grip”.
The court heard that the tractor the “large wheel of the tractor drove over the left part of his body”.
Mr Fitzsimmon’s son said that the deceased had “very bad arthritis”.
Health and Safety Authority (HSA) inspector David Boland carried out an investigation at the scene of the accident on May 30.
He said the tractor, which was on top of a “relatively gentle” slope, needed a rolling start to start the engine.
His report stated that the farmer would “swing himself into his seat and use a blue rope to get into the tractor”. The key was in the ignition but was not possible to start, the inspector said.
The Coroner’s Court heard that the blue rope may have been used as “a hand grip”.
A post-mortem examination showed that Mr Fitzsimmons died due to bronchial pneumonia after suffering from multiple injuries.
The court heard that the farmer appeared to have “stumbled and fallen” before the tractor “rolled over him”.
The six-person jury recorded a verdict of accidental death, in line with the medical evidence presented during the hearing. Coroner John McNamara, Insp Alan Cullen and a member of the jury expressed their condolences to the family.