herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Father weeps at inquest into son's fatal tractor death

Conor and Deirdre Cashman arriving at Midleton Court for inquest into their son Fionn's death
Conor and Deirdre Cashman arriving at Midleton Court for inquest into their son Fionn's death

A FATHER of four wept as he explained how his toddler son was fatally run over by a tractor after wandering to the rear of the working vehicle.

Conor Cashman cried as he explained how his son, Fionn (18 months), had somehow walked to the back of the tractor which he was using to move hay bales on the family's Cork farm.

The toddler suffered fatal crush injuries to his head in the freak accident on May 8, 2014.

A Cork coroner's inquest heard that, despite desperate efforts to help the little boy, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Conor was working with the family's 1988 Case International tractor to move bales between farm sheds at their holding at Drominane outside Killeagh in east Cork last May.

Bale

He approached an upper shed at an acute angle to drop a heavy bale using a front-loader.

"The tractor was revving very high," he said.

Mr Cashman, who was wearing ear protection, dropped the bale and reversed the tractor slowly away from the door.

"Fionn must have been behind the left wheel of the tractor. I never saw him. (Then) I saw Fionn lying on the ground motionless," he wept.

"I had felt nothing on the tractor ... no bump, no impact."

Despite desperate efforts to help the little boy he was pronounced dead before he could be transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, said unconsciousness and death would have been instantaneous.

She conducted a post mortem examination on the toddler at CUH.

She found Fionn had died from a severe traumatic brain injury sustained in a low-speed vehicle run-over.

Fionn was the grandson of well-known horse breeder Frank Motherway.

His father, Conor, is a respected east Cork vet, while his mother, Deirdre, is also well known in horse breeding and racing circles.

Fionn was the youngest of the couple's four children, all of whom are aged under nine.

In a moving funeral tribute to their son, the heartbroken couple said: "Fionn never saw a sad day."

The accident happened shortly before 1pm on a farmyard 3km outside the village of Killeagh, on the Cork-Youghal Road.

Verdict

Coroner Frank O'Connell returned a verdict of accidental death.

"It was a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.

Mr O'Connell extended his sympathies to the family on their tragic loss.

Gardai and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) officials described the incident as a tragic accident.

Last year was the worst on record for fatal farm accidents with a total of 30 people losing their lives, an alarming 87pc increase on 2013.

Nine of those who died were aged over 65 years.

Five of the deaths involved children.

The HSA warned that around 60pc of farm accidents now involve tractors and machinery.

hnews@herald.ie

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