Multi-millionaire farmer crushed to death when his Jack Russell pushed lever inside cab of his truck

A MILLIONAIRE farmer was crushed to death by his own truck- after his DOG accidentally knocked a lever moving the vehicle forward, an inquest heard.

Entrepreneur Derek Mead, 70, left his JCB loader with the engine running as he was building a rockery on his farm in Puxton, Somerset last year.

SWNS:South West News Service

Derek Mead was crushed to death by his forklift at his farm in Somerset last year[/caption]

But an inquest heard how his Jack Russell Terrier, who he left in the vehicle, nudged a lever which started the machine moving.

The lever is as easy to turn on as a car indicator and the dog may have jumped up to see here his master had gone, the court heard.

Derek, a father-of-three, was crushed against the gate and suffered a fractured vertebrae and traumatic asphyxia.

Paramedics tried to save him but he died at the scene.

SWNS:South West News Service

An inquest heard how the dairy farmer’s dog most likely nudged the lever which moved the truck forward[/caption]

PA:Press Association

The multi-millionaire suffered a fractured vertebrae and traumatic asphyxia[/caption]

Simon Chilcott, a health and safety inspector, outlined the moments before Mr Mead’s death at the inquest in Flax Bourton, Bristol.

He said: “Mr Mead has pulled off the road, come to a halt with footbrake, made it stationary and put the shuttle into neutral. It was still in gear.

“He is now out of the vehicle and had it been knocked at any point when he got out it would have started moving.

“You couldn’t knock it as you are climbing out without realising you’ve done it.

“In the cab of the vehicle was a small dog and whether the dog has put its paws on the door to wait – or been jumping up to see where its master has gone – he has most likely collided with the lever.

“As he jumped up to put his paws up to look, he has put machine into a forward motion.

“Operating the lever is no more difficult than changing an indicator stick on your car.”

Derek, who owned border collies and terriers, had been building rockery around a large pond in his garden on June 4, 2017 when the accident happened.

Son Alistair, who cried throughout the one-hour hearing, found Mr Mead trapped against the gate and unresponsive.

SWNS:South West News Service

Mr Mead was a father-of-three and a wealthy landowner in Somerset[/caption]

In a statement read to the court, he said: “Dad was crouched down facing the machine with his back to the gate as if he had seen the machine coming towards him and ducked to avoid it.”

Summing up, assistant coroner Dr Peter Harrowing said: “Mr Mead was very experienced in the using the piece of equipment.

“The most likely explanation is that the dog inadvertently moved the shuttle lever, causing Mr Mead to be trapped against the gate.

“The death of Mr Derek Mead was one of a very tragic accident.”

Mr Mead’s brother Roger was killed 30 years ago when his tractor overturned while he was out working on his land.

Derek, who died at his farm The Laurels in the village of Puxton, was a leading businessman and a major landowner in the area.

He was the managing director of Mead Realisations which owns Puxton Park.

The dairy farmer also owned the Sedgemoor Auction Centre at junction 24 of the M5.

Mr Mead farmed around 3,000 acres in North Somerset and also owned racehorses.

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