Driver crushed by 28-ton lorry killed accidentally

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The death of a truck driver who died after being crushed by a 28-ton articulated lorry was accidental, a jury has decided.

Russell Homer, of Sywell Road, Overstone, was killed as a result of the accident at the Nightfreight Distribution depot in Doddington Road, Earls Barton, in December 2010.

An investigation was launched immediately after his death.

An inquest today heard the accident happened at around 6.20pm on the evening of December 7 as Mr Homer, aged 44, was starting work.

The lorry rolled out of its sloped bay, fatally injuring Mr Homer after he became trapped between his vehicle and a stationary HGV, before rolling a further 27 metres to the other side of the depot, where it crashed into a wall.

The court was told Mr Homer was attempting to ‘couple’ his cab to a trailer when the incident happened.

Experts and eyewitnesses told the court the only way the vehicle could have rolled forward was if Mr Homer had not applied the handbrake before leaving the cab.

Giving evidence to the jury this morning, Michael Fenn, a driver and mechanic who was working at the depot on the night, described how he was in a garage when a colleague came running in to say there had been an accident.

He told the coroner he came out of the garage to find the truck crashed into the wall, with the engine still running.

Mr Fenn said he then made his way to the cab where he switched of the engine, removed the keys from the ignition and applied the handbrake.

The inquest also heard from other members of staff at Nightfreight distribution, as well as the depot manager and the health and safety advisor, Andrew Knight.

He told the inquest the site did not have any precautionary measures to prevent lorries rolling forward if the handbrake was not applied at the time of the accident.

He said he believed all drivers were made aware of the site regulations and confirmed changes to the depot had now been made.

Mr Knight said the bays now have safety ramps positioned in front of the wheels underneath the cab as well as the back wheels of the trailer.

A large sign has also been put up reminding drivers to apply their handbrake.

He told the jury he believed Mr Homer was aware of the site rules and the safety precautions he should have made when coupling and uncoupling a truck and trailer.