Belfast Telegraph

Boy (10) is killed in Co Down farming accident

A 10-year-old boy has died following a farming accident in Co Down.

A spokesman from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said the boy had fallen off farm machinery shortly before 2.30pm at the property on the Rathfriland Road, Castlewellan.

Due to the inaccessibility of the site, he had to be airlifted from the farm to Craigavon Area Hospital accompanied by two ambulance personnel.

Investigators from Northern Ireland's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are examining the circumstances of the incident .

A spokesman from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed the boy had died.

"The death was due to a farming accident," he said.

It is the latest of a series of tragedies to hit the agricultural community in Northern Ireland.

Last week, a father-of-three died after falling from a wall on his farm in Co Londonderry.

Henry Allen, 70, is believed to have lost his balance while working with silage.

Earlier last week six-year-old boy Harry Starrett died after collapsing in the milking parlour of his family farm on the outskirts of Armagh.

There were initial fears he had died in a farm-related accident but a post mortem subsequently identified an undiagnosed heart condition.

Last year 12 people died in farm accidents in Northern Ireland, including Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence, his father and brother, who were overcome by fumes in a slurry tank on their farm outside Hillsborough, Co Down.

Twelve people died in 2011. Before the recent deaths, there had been two fatalities up until June this year.

South Down Assembly member John McCallister said today's incident again highlighted the dangers that a farming environment could present.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family," said the NI21 representative.

"This really is a tragic event."

Barclay Bell, a deputy president of the Ulster Farmers' Union and arable farmer from Rathfriland, said at this time of year farms were busy and children were home for the summer holidays.

"The farm is also a family home and that may be part of the difference," he said.

He added: "It is another loss of life and a small child so certainly it is not good news for the wider farming family in Northern Ireland."

Speaking generally, he warned: "I still think the whole farming community, the families on farms, they really have to try hard and challenge the mindset a bit, that they just need to stop and reassess and think 'can I do this any safer, can I make my farm safer in general'?"

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