Clare farm tragedy last year could have taken another life

By Gordon Deegan

A tragic crush accident in Co. Clare last year, which took one man’s life, could have taken another if not for a lucky escape.

Father-of-one Michael McGrath died when he was crushed by a slurry tank on June 27, 2017, at Ballina, Labasheeda.

At the Clare coronor’s court, an inquest into his death heard that another man, Sean McInerney, was employed by an agricultural and plant hire contractor to assist Michael in spreading slurry.

In a deposition, the inquest heard of Sean’s narrow escape from behind the slurry tank as it rolled towards them, but despite his best efforts to alert Michael to the danger, the latter was unable to move out of the way in time.

In his deposition, Sean said: “I ran out of the way of the tractor and tank and I shouted at Michael to move out of the way.”

He added that he knew Michael was dead there and then.

I am certain that the tractor was in ‘park’ before I got out of it. There was a hill going downwards so, if I didn’t put the tractor in ‘park’, it would have went back once I took my foot off the brake pedal.

The inquest also heard from Clare Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Inspector, Garda Brendan Condon, who said that Gardai recreated the scene of the tragedy to determine what went wrong.

The tractor was found to have a defective hand-brake, but its transmission brake was found to be working fine.

Garda Condon said: “Following tests it is difficult to determine how a driver could leave the tractor cab without the transmission brake applied. The slope would have caused the tractor to roll backwards before he started filling the tank.”