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Dog killed farmer with tractor by accidentally setting it in motion

A multi-millionaire farmer was crushed to death by his own tractor after his dog knocked a lever to make the vehicle move forward.

The tractor pinned Derek Mead against a gate at his farm in Puxton, Somerset, and he suffered a fractured vertebrae and traumatic asphyxia, an inquest heard.

Paramedics tried to save the 70-year-old entrepreneur, but he died at the scene.

Derek Mead was found trapped against the gate by his son Alistair (Picture: SWNS)

The father-of-three had left his dog in the cab of the JCB farm loader, leaving the engine running as he built a rockery.

But the tractor began to move when the dog, who may have jumped up to see where Mr Mead had gone, knocked a lever, the inquest in Bristol was told.

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The leading businessman was found trapped against the gate and unresponsive by his son Alistair after the incident on June 4, 2017.

Simon Chilcott, a health and safety inspector who investigated his death, 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.

The leading businessman died at the scene despite paramedics’ best efforts (Picture: SWNS)

‘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.’

Once moved out of neutral, the tractor will move forward without the need to accelerate, Mr Chilcott explained.

His dog is thought to have inadvertently caused the accident (Picture: SWNS)

Assistant coroner Dr Peter Harrowing said: ‘Mr Mead was very experienced in the using of 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.’

The farmer’s brother Roger was also killed in a tractor accident – his vehicle overturned as he worked on land 30 years ago.

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