Belfast Telegraph

Fermanagh dad Jonathan Gormley killed in tree-felling tragedy wasn't seen for hours by colleague

By Cate McCurry

A father-of-two from Co Fermanagh who died in a freak accident while working clearing trees had not been seen for over two hours by the colleague who found him, his inquest has heard.

Jonathan Gormley was alone when he was struck from behind by a tree.

The 29-year-old from Belleek, had been working as a tree surgeon for the construction of a windfarm in Co Donegal when he was killed days before Christmas.

The dad to Jack and Oran had been felling some wind-blown timber at Meenadreen windfarm when the accident happened.

Jonathan had been living in Ballyshannon with his partner Mairead Coughlin and their two children.

The inquest into his death heard that his colleague Joe Devaney discovered him after he went looking for him when he failed to answer his mobile phone.

Mr Devaney told the inquest that Mr Gormley was a sawman who cut trees ahead of him and he would then clear them with a harvesting machine.

He explained that on December 21, 2015, he last saw Mr Gormley at around 11.30am or 12pm when they had a chat and a cigarette together and then Mr Gormley went to work on a hill.

He described how it was a windy day and that he rang Mr Gormley's mobile phone four times between 2.17pm and 2.36pm but became worried after he failed to answer.

The deceased's family yesterday heard how Mr Devaney went to look for him and found Mr Gormley on his knees with a tree down on his shoulder, and his helmet still on.

He tried desperately to lift the tree off him but was not able to and rang their company director Thomas Kelly, who was nearby.

After contacting the emergency services, Mr Devaney cut the tree and put him in the recovery position to perform CPR.

The ambulance crew gave him oxygen but a doctor who came to the scene a short time later pronounced him dead despite attempts to revive him.

When pressed by the family's solicitor Damien Tansey that there should have been more contact between the pair during those two-and-a-half hours, Mr Devaney agreed.

He also agreed that a chainsaw worker should never work alone.

Thomas Kelly, the owner of Softwood Ltd, said Mr Gormley was a great worker.

"He was never idle, he always had a smile on his face," he added.

His brother Ben said he is badly missed by his whole family, including his partner and two young sons.

"We are all heartbroken," he said at the time of his death.

Mr Gormley's parents, James and Bridie, run the popular Dulrush Fishing Lodge in Belleek.

The coroner recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

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