On 4 May 2017 a Northampton inquest heard how a vehicle recovery worker was killed when the vehicle he was working on fell on top of him.
On 19 August 2016 Mr Peter Hummel had been travelling back from a job when he pulled over to assist his colleague, Adam Collett, just off of junction 13 of the A14. Mr Collett had been encountering difficulties towing a truck from Cambridge.
Too much air had been pushed into an airbag controlling the vehicle's suspension, causing a gap between the wheel and the wheel arch. When attempting to fix the problem, Mr Hummel put his head into the gap whilst attempting to pass equipment across to his colleague. Mr Hummel then cut a cable tie which caused the airbag to deflate and the suspension to fail. As a result the chassis dropped on Mr Hummel, trapping him between the wheel and the wheel arch. The 56-year-old suffered from fatal head injuries and died almost instantly, having had only one second to move away.
Mr Collett recounted the incident in a statement which was read out by Senior Coroner Anne Pember:
“Pete was under the wheel arch”.
“The next thing I heard was a sudden gush of air and I felt the chassis of the vehicle drop.”
“I didn’t know whether it was going to pin me or not. “
“I scrambled out and tried to comfort Pete as much as I could.”
Forensic collision investigator Brian Johnson described Mr Hummel’s actions in the lead up to his death as “...a moment of absolute madness...the analogy is sticking your head in a crocodile’s mouth”. He added that “…any experienced mechanic would have known that could have happened”.
He described Mr Hummel as having been “very competent at work” and added “...there are many people who have done things where they think they probably should not have done it.”
Mr Johnson believed that it was likely Mr Hummel cut tie clips which had been holding metal arms in place, causing them to fall.
The jury comprising of five men and four women deliberated for thirty minutes before announcing that they had recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Mr Hummel’s son Harry provided a statement which was read out in Court:
“He was always into his mechanics and his cars…he used to work long hours and used to be on call which he was happy to do."
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