Belfast Telegraph

Mechanic's death due to car slipping from faulty hoist

By Brendan McDaid

A mechanic died when a car he was working under slid off its supports and crushed him, an inquest has been told.

Anthony Conway (63) was found by a friend who heard his dying scream at the garage near his home at Halfgyne Road in Maghera.

The widowed father-of-three was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, which happened at 1pm on October 19, 2011.

Juraj Simunek, who was working in a shed cutting pine wood next to the garage, was the first to arrive at the scene.

In a statement read out at the hearing in Limavady Courthouse yesterday, he said: “I heard a big bang and a small scream. I had a bad feeling.”

He went to the garage shed and found the door opened a metre or two. On entering, he noticed two vehicles, and looking under one of them he saw Mr Conway in his blue overalls.

He jacked the car up and saw that his friend’s eyes were closed.

An ambulance was called but, despite attempts at resuscitation by paramedics, Mr Conway was pronounced dead at 1.50pm. Assistant State Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram found that Mr Conway’s death was caused by his injuries when the car fell on him.

He said that almost all of Mr Conway’s ribs were fractured.

The autopsy also revealed a laceration to the heart wall, a tear in the aorta and damage to his lungs, pancreas and liver.

Dr Ingram said the combined injuries “would have caused his very rapid death”.

Mr Conway’s daughter Tanya Marshall told yesterday’s hearing that her father, who was originally from Moneymore, had worked as a mechanic but had more or less retired.

He had developed a passion for repairing vintage and classic cars.

Forensic expert Lindsay McCormick, who investigated the equipment at the scene of the accident, said the car had been hoisted onto a hydraulic two-post, four-arm lift. She said the lift’s pads were in poor condition and that it was probable that a front corner of the car slid off its pad.

Ms McCormick said that ordinarily such machinery would have been subjected to health and safety inspections, but because Mr Conway was believed to have retired, such checks would have stopped some time previously.

Northern Ireland Senior Coroner John Leckey asked for a letter to be drawn up for Mr Conway’s children outlining what needs to be done if the lift is used in future.

Mr Leckey said he had officiated at a number of inquests involving people killed while working on cars.

“Like the farming environment, the environment of a mechanic’s garage is a potentially dangerous environment,” he said.

He found that Mr Conway died when injuries sustained when the car became dislodged from a hydraulic lift, trapping him beneath.

Speaking after the inquest, a tearful Mrs Marshall paid tribute to her father. “He had the best sense of humour, he was so funny. He was a brilliant daddy and grandad,” she said.

“My daddy did a lot of charity work. I miss him every day.”

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