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'Electrocution fear' caused delay

A grandfather who suffered a massive heart attack as he attempted to move a fallen tree was left lying in the road for 40 minutes, an inquest heard.

Roger Hayward, 71, fell back as he used his chainsaw to cut through the tree in Calne, Wiltshire, after it brought down power cables in the winter storms earlier this year.

Emergency services rushed to the scene but were instructed to stand back from Mr Hayward, due to fears the cables were live and he had been electrocuted.

Salisbury Coroner's Court heard paramedics were only able to tend to the grandfather-of-three 40 minutes later, when the electricity board confirmed the power was off.

Resuscitation was not attempted due to the period of time Mr Hayward had been lifeless on the ground and he was pronounced dead minutes later, at 4.05pm on February 12.

The inquest was told the power lines had been off for at least 30 minutes before Mr Hayward attempted to move the tree, at 3.20pm, and his death was caused by a heart attack.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Hayward's widow Celia Hayward, 69, said it was unclear whether Mr Hayward could have been saved if he had been attended to earlier.

"They might have been able to help him if they knew there was no electricity going through the cables," she said. "I don't know if they would have been able to save his life.

"You don't normally bother resuscitating someone after an hour. It seems like he had quite bad heart disease but he seemed quite healthy before.

"I never thought he had been electrocuted, everybody knows cables are dangerous - he wasn't daft. There was no power going through them."

Daughter Linda added: "If they had known there was no power in the lines they could have gone to dad straight away.

"We don't know if it would have made a difference, but there should have been a system in place so they knew the power was off."

The inquest heard Mr Hayward, a retired market gardener, was watching television when there was a power cut at around 2.50pm.

He decided to go shopping with son Andrew, but the pair could not drive down the road due to a tree which had brought down power lines by his home.

Mr Hayward returned home and picked up his chainsaw, before heading to move the tree from the road in Bremhill, Calne.

Pcso Mark Cook, of Wiltshire Police, told the inquest he was called to reports of the fallen tree and power cut at around 3.20pm.

"As we travelled towards the location we had a further call to say a male had been possibly electrocuted while trying to move the tree," Pcso Cook said.

"As we went toward the location we were told several times not to under any circumstances approach the male due to the possibility of live electrical cables."

Pcso Cook said he found Mr Hayward lying flat on his back, with no signs of life, with his feet entangled in the branches and leaves of the fallen tree.

"There were several fallen power cables I could see over the road," Pcso Cook added. "I could see power cables were criss-crossed over the road preventing anyone from approaching Mr Hayward."

The inquest heard Scottish and Southern Energy confirmed the power cables were not live at 3.59pm.

Paramedic Joanne Munday, of South Western Ambulance Service, described the weather conditions as "extreme" and confirmed no resuscitation attempts were made.

John Steed, HM principal specialist inspector - Electrical Networks, said records from Scottish and Southern Energy confirmed power was off from 2.50pm, due to a blown fuse.

A post-mortem examination found Mr Hayward, who had high blood pressure, had died from ischemic heart disease and pulmonary artery atherosclerosis.

Ian Singleton, assistant coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, concluded that Mr Hayward had died from natural causes.

"Roger Hayward was using a chainsaw attempting to cut up a tree that had fallen across the road outside his property," Mr Singleton said.

"He suffered a heart related incident that led to his death."

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