Dunstable widow’s plea for lessons to be learned after fatal works incident


The widow of a Dunstable man who died after he was dragged under a lorry in the course of his work has called for lessons to be learned following the conclusion of his inquest.

Pete Coleman suffered head and pelvic injuries when he was trapped under his vehicle while collecting refuse from Woodside Leisure Park in Watford three years ago.

Following the death of the 54-year-old, his widow Bev instructed specialist serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the circumstances surrounding Pete’s death.

Bev, 54, has now called on her husband’s employer, Luton based waste management firm F & R Cawley Limited, to make safety improvements after an inquest at Hatfield today (Thursday) was told that the vehicle Pete was trapped under had defective brakes and wiring.

Speaking after the hearing she said: “It has been incredibly difficult to hear the findings of the inquest and ultimately how Pete’s death perhaps could and should have been prevented.

“I miss Pete so much but while nothing can change what has happened, my hope is that lessons will be learned to ensure that no other people have to endure the three years of hurt and pain our family has had to go through.

“I am grateful that Watford Borough Council have assured the Coroner that their investigation into the defects in the vehicle contributed to Pete’s death is ongoing. Safety must always come first.

“I would also like to thank the brave members of the public and all the emergency services who tried to rescue Pete.”

A jury at Old Courthouse in Hatfield was told that Pete was working alone when the incident happened just after 6.30am on 11 October 2014.

The father-of-two and grandfather-of-four, had got out of the cab to collect two commercial bins and had applied the handbrake.

However, the vehicle which was unroadworthy because of a brake defect, moved off when Pete operated its lifting mechanism, the inquest was told.

Pete became trapped under the rear wheels as the truck’s axles continued to rotate. After around seven minutes the vehicle caught fire and there was an explosion after another five minutes, the hearing was told.

Emergency services were called. The jury was told that Pete was trapped under the vehicle for around 90 minutes before he was taken to Watford General Hospital where he died after suffering a cardiac arrest.

The hearing was also told that a safety feature of the vehicle’s lifting equipment had been bypassed.

The jury returned a verdict that Pete’s death was caused by an accident in the course of his work which had been contributed to by the faults in his vehicle.

Sofie Toft, a specialist workplace accident solicitor at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, representing the family, said: “The details outlined at this inquest have raised a number of hugely worrying concerns regarding safety of the vehicle that Pete was operating on the day he died. It is our view that, had the defects in Pete’s vehicle been rectified, his death could undoubtedly have been prevented.

“Following this hearing, we are now continuing with our work to ensure that Bev and the family gain justice regarding Pete’s death and the many issues which have been identified in relation to the incident. It is our view that there are clear improvements required to ensure the same never happens again.”

Pete also leaves behind son Paul, 27, daughter Lisa, 16, and grandchildren nine-year-old Harvey, Jack aged seven, Ruby aged four and two-year old Michael.