A scrap metal collector who was killed when his crane struck an overhead power line carrying 11,000 volts did not see a warning sign, an inquest heard today (January 18).
Edward Evans, 52, from Elton , was electrocuted when he tried to collect broken lightweight metal cages from Holme Farm, Ince, on January 17, 2015.
The electricity cables were marked with a yellow warning sign but the sun was low and strong and Mr Evans had a sensitivity to bright light following a head trauma, the 10 member jury heard.
Senior Coroner for Cheshire Nicholas Leslie Rheinberg opened the two-day inquest this morning, two years and one day after the incident.
He told a packed room at Warrington Coroners Court that witness statements described Mr Evans, known to friends as 'Pudgie Evans, as 'a larger than life character' who was 'respected in the community'.
The coroner explained that Mr Evans' friend Thomas Harker had been given permission to collect scrap metal from Holme Farm on Friday, January 16, 2015, in exchange for destroying a shed there a few days prior.
He had called on Mr Evans, who often assisted him on similar projects as he had a licence for dealing in scrap metal and owned a 7.5 tonne flatbed truck with a Hiab crane.
Both of the men had been to the farm several times before but not together.
The court heard that some of the scrap metal was in a skip while the rest was stored near to a lagoon used to dump animal waste and food scraps before being used as fertiliser.
The men visited the farm on Friday, January 16, 2015, and collected the scrap metal from the container but the lagoon area was busy so they decided to return the next day to gather the remaining metal.
Mr Harker told the jury that he had been given permission to collect the metal on the Saturday. However joint owner of the farm, David Willis of JH Willis and Sons, said that he told him to carry out his work on the Friday when the offices were manned.
At about 12.45pm Mr Evans backed the lorry into place, then went around to the passenger side of the vehicle to operate the grab mechanism of the crane.
Mr Harker said he had seen power cables from a distance but was not aware of how close they were and did not see any warning signs.
Mr Evans attempted to grab the first crate and on swinging the arm around to put it on to the flatbed truck the crane struck a power cable.
Electricity travelled down the crane into Mr Evans.
Unaware of the nature of Mr Evans' distress, Mr Harker ran around the truck and tried to grab his friend, but in doing so he received a shock himself.
Mr Harker called emergency services before ringing Mr Evans's wife Shirley, 50, to let her know what had happened.
When paramedics arrived on the scene they attempted to resuscitate Mr Evans before taking him to the Countess of Chester Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Sixteen witnesses were called to give evidence at the inquest, with 14 attending in person and two giving written statements.
Jane Carroll, HM Inspector of Health and Safety, presented CCTV footage of the incident along with further video and photographic evidence.
Dr Shuvam Roy of The Helsby and Elton Practice in Frodsham gave evidence on Mr Evans's medical records.
He explained that in 2010 he had suffered a head injury which led to long term side affects such as changes to smell and taste, and sensitivity to bright lights.
Police Sergeant David Wedgwood of Blacon Police Station, who was one of the first on the scene, said that it was a 'bright sunny day' and the sky was 'mostly blue'.
He moved around the site to assess the sun's position and said that Mr Evan's would have 'almost been looking directly into the sun' and added that he was unable to see the warning sign from the cab of the truck.
Elton power cut
Electrical safety engineer Robert Edwards from Scottish Power said that the cables were two foot higher than minimum height regulations and carried 11,000 volts.
He said that an automatic electrical protection device led to electricity being cut off in the town of Ince following the incident.
Mr Edwards added that he was surprised that Mr Harker did not come to any significant harm after grabbing Mr Evans as 'the second person is almost as prone to injuries as the first'.
A report from consultant pathologist Jacqueline Elder stated that Mr Evans had no alcohol or intoxicating substances in his blood.
Celeste Povey of JH Willis and Sons explained that several changes had been made at the farm following the incident to improve site safety.
These include more training, new barriers, restricted access times and the use of higher quality CCTV cameras.
The inquest will continue tomorrow (January 19) at 9.30am at Warrington Coroner's Court.