A QUARRY worker who died when a heavy crusher slipped and fell on top of him was the victim of a tragic accident, an inquest heard.

Gary Ward, a father-of-two from Crook, County Durham, died at Divet Hill quarry in Great Bavington, Northumberland, in February 2009.

At an inquest in Hexham this week, Northumberland coroner Eric Armstrong said the 43-year-old would probably not have been killed if the machine had not been left active.

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The inquest heard how Mr Ward, a fitter, was responsible for maintaining the crusher and had been checking out a problem with the bearings.

His death led to a Health and Safety Executive investigation, which uncovered a mechanical fault.

Summing up, Mr Armstrong said: “Realistically, if the key had been taken out, Gary Ward would probably have been with us today.”

After deliberating for 90 minutes, the jury returned a verdict of death as a result of an accident.