Inquest rules seven-year-old Karl Doran died accidentally after falling from steam engine at Beamish (From The Northern Echo)
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Inquest rules seven-year-old Karl Doran died accidentally after falling from steam engine at Beamish
A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy died from severe head injuries after being hit by a 1.5-tonne trailer following a fall from a traction engine at an open-air museum, an inquest heard.
Karl Doran, from Darlington, was volunteering at Beamish Museum, in County Durham, on the afternoon of July 22 last year.
He was a passenger on a steam-powered traction engine being driven by his father Phillip, who was also working as a volunteer at the museum.
Monday's (December 2) inquest, at Crook Civic Centre, heard that Mr Doran was an experienced traction engine driver and that Karl had frequently accompanied him at Beamish and other venues.
The incident happened while the pair were completing a circuit of the busy museum in a red traction engine, on a section of tarmac with no pedestrian access to the public.
Because of this, there were no witnesses to what happened, other than Karl's father.
It appears Karl was sitting on an A-frame connecting the traction engine to the trailer.
Detective Chief Inspector Victoria Fuller explained how Mr Doran gave a statement in which he said Karl was scuffing his feet on the ground in the moments before he fell.
Mr Doran had told him to stop and heard the trailer jolt at the moment Karl fell, she said.
The vehicle was travelling no faster than five or six miles per hour at this time.
A post-mortem examination found Karl suffered severe crush injuries to the head.
The incident led to a joint investigation between Durham Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Inspector Victoria Wise, of the HSE, said Beamish had a risk assessment in place as to the use of traction engines on site.
However, this did not include guidance for staff or volunteers as to the towing of trailers, the carrying of passengers or children.
HSE has since served Beamish with an improvement order, which has been fully complied with, although the HSE strand of the investigation remains ongoing.
Coroner Andrew Tweddle directed the jury of six women and five men to return a verdict of accidental death.
Det Ch Insp Fuller showed the jury stills and video of the steam roller in the moments leading up to the accident.
Speaking after the hearing, she thanked members of the public for their help during the investigation.
Six members of Karl's family were present at the hearing, but his parents were not in attendance.
Mr Tweddle will write to both Beamish and the HSE in an effort to ensure appropriate lessons are learnt as a result of the tragedy.
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