Inquest into death of man in slurry incident records verdict of accidental death

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Posted 05/03/2013

Following a two day inquest into the tragic death of Craig Whipps (pictured above), a verdict of accidental death has been recorded. During the inquest, Coroner Mrs Caroline Beasley-Murray has been investigating the circumstances of the death of Craig who died, aged 27, on 15 July 2011 following a tragic incident at Albyns Farm in Stapleford Tawney near Ongar. The incident occurred when Craig, from Denton in south Norfolk, sought to dilute thick slurry from the cattle shed with more liquid slurry stored in a bulk tank. A large volume of liquid slurry escaped under pressure, releasing toxic gases as it did so. The inquest, which began yesterday, took place in front of a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court. The job of the Coroner was to determine exactly how his encounter with the slurry led to Craig’s untimely death. Craig’s colleague, Paul Gray, also died while trying to come to his rescue and his inquest took place at the same time.Michael Wangermann, a personal injury specialist at Ashtons Legal, represented Craig’s family. He explains: “It is clear that the potential dangers of slurry, and the hydrogen sulphide it releases, are still underestimated in the agricultural community in spite of the Health and Safety Executive’s efforts to raise awareness. Craig’s family are keen to highlight the issue in the hope that other families will not have to go through the ordeal they have had to face. In this case the volume of slurry and the fumes released were overpowering even though the tank was stored outside”.Craig left a wife, Vicky, and two children, one of whom was born after his death. Craig was known, liked and respected by many who had known him across East Anglia. He attended Town Close House School in Norwich, Framlingham College in Suffolk, and Writtle Agricultural College in Essex.  He had played for the Harleston Magpies Hockey Club since his youth.Craig’s wife Vicky, says: “Craig was a lovely husband, who should have had many years of family life ahead of him.  His whole family are very proud of what he achieved in the time he was with us. Now we just want to try to raise awareness of some of the hidden dangers of working in an agricultural environment in the hope that the same thing will not happen to anyone else”.Statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive for the 12 month period to the end of March 2011 revealed that UK-wide there were 42 fatalities in the agricultural sector, well ahead of the 29 in manufacturing and not far behind the 52 in construction. The figures also reveal that the Eastern region has the third highest rate for workplace fatalities. The two worst areas are the North West and Yorkshire, but the Eastern region sees more fatalities than neighbouring London, the East Midlands or the South East.


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