Monday 23 October 2017

Distraught father's fight to save toddler son crushed by pole

A TODDLER who lost his life when a one ton, 23-metre telegraph pole rolled on to him at Drogheda Port was the victim of an accidental death, an inquest has ruled.

The inquest in Drogheda heard how his distraught father tried to resuscitate him as he waited for the ambulance to arrive at the dock area, where there is a historical public right of way.

Desmond Dyas had brought his son Desmond Jnr (3) to the Town Quay in Drogheda to watch what was going on at the docks, something they had often done together, he told the inquest.

The Louth County Coroner Ronan Maguire and the inspector from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) both told Mr Dyas there was a public right of way on the quay.

Mr Dyas, from the Dales, Clogherhead, Co Louth, said: "My family worked there over generations."

Mr Maguire said: "You cannot trespass where there is a right of way."

The inquest heard that the father and son were watching from a distance of around 100 feet as a forklift was used to move the poles, which were in four separate stacks on the quayside, on to a waiting truck.

Mr Dyas said that the forklift seemed to have difficulty freeing poles from one of the stacks and then the stack began to collapse causing the dock to vibrate.

He said one pole rolled out and struck his son on the chest.

"I couldn't move it, I screamed for help," he said. He also began doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The accident happened just before noon on November 10, 2009, and the boy was pronounced dead by a doctor at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital at 12.32, but Mr Dyas said he believed his son died at the quay.

Mr Mark Madigan, HSA inspector, said that due to the ends of poles in two of the stacks being intertwined, when the poles rolled in one stack they affected the poles in the other stack.

He said only one of the four stacks on the quayside had chocks or end stocks which are used to prevent unplanned rolling.

In reply to the coroner, Mr Madigan said that all of the stacks should have had the safety device in place.

At Dundalk Circuit Court earlier this year shipping company Patrick Monahan (Drogheda) Ltd was fined ¤25,000 for a breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work regulations.

Company director Michael Ronayne pleaded guilty on behalf of the company; it admitted failing to ensure that people who were not its employees were not exposed to risk.

At the sentencing the State prosecutor Kevin Segrave said the town quay, "has a long established public right of way".

The inquest heard the boy died from traumatic crush injuries and asphyxia and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Afterwards Mr Maguire expressed his sympathies to the family and said: "Any words from me seem grossly inadequate for what the family has suffered and must still be."

hnews@herald.ie

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