East and South East
Twenty one year old Andrew Pursey was crushed to death between two tractors while working on the family farm in Herefordshire. Andrew had just gained a degree in agricultural business management and was about to go off on a nine months work experience tour of Australia.
He was using two tractors to work a field on one of the two family farms spreading fertiliser ground for winter corn. It was late afternoon on a grey overcast day in September and he was working alone at that time.
He had returned to the yard at the farm to reload with fertiliser. The main vehicle Andrew was using in the field was a new tractor which had a spinner connected at the rear to disperse the fertiliser. The other vehicle was an older tractor with a fore end loader.
He used the spike of the fore end loader to bring a large, half ton bag of fertiliser from the storage barn and then positioned it behind the fertiliser spreader at the rear end of the main vehicle. The spreader tractor was parked with its engine off but Andrew left the engine running on the other vehicle and did not put the handbrake on. He then went between the two vehicles to slit the fertiliser bag. He had his back to the older vehicle and because the yard was on a concrete slope it crept forward, gathered speed and crushed him between the two vehicles. His mobile telephone was in the spreader tractor cab and he could not summon help.
His father, Roger, had been at Ludlow cattle market that day and had spoken with his son twice via the mobile phone that afternoon. When Andrew failed to return home at the expected time and did not answer his phone his father and sister, Sarah, went over to the other farm five miles away to look for him. They were horrified to find Andrew in the yard crushed between the two tractors.
Mr. Pursey said: “He was dead and I reversed the tractor back from him. It must have caught him in the ribs from behind. We were numb with shock. I cannot understand how he had not managed to push the tractor back; he was such a strong boy. I have thought about the accident often since and one of the conclusions we reached was that until that day Andrew had always used another more modern machine to load the fertiliser which did not require a hand brake. We also think he was rushing. He was very concerned about leaving us as he was about to go to Australia and there was so much to do at the farm. He wanted to get through as much of the work as possible before he left. But how long would it have taken him to put the handbrake on that day? He was young and like so many young men of that age who act quickly to do a job but sometimes without thought.”
Elizabeth, Andrew’s mother, said Andrew, like his older brother, David and younger sister, Sarah, attended Reading University. “He really lived life to the full. He enjoyed the Young Farmer’s club and was a good rugby player. He was planning to work in Australia for a few months and then return to work on the farm. We were absolutely stunned by what had happened to him. It made our day to day life seem unreal. We will never get over his loss. Christmas and any family celebrations are still difficult. On the first Christmas after losing him we went to Australia to join our other son for the holiday break as I could not bear to be at the farm.
“The message his father and I would give to everyone working in this way and often alone either in agriculture or a similar industry is: ‘Think once and think twice before you start any task however easy it may seem and however familiar you are with the job. Do not rush, and concentrate on what you are doing.’
“Andrew’s life was tragically lost. It was such a great waste and unless it happens to you no one can know how terrible a loss it is.”