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'Kind, caring' holiday site owner died after JCB fell on him, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 16:01 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:14 30 January 2019

Don Peers, 69, owner of Grasmere caravan park in Caister, died after a JCB toppled over and fell on him.  Picture: James Bass

Don Peers, 69, owner of Grasmere caravan park in Caister, died after a JCB toppled over and fell on him. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2016

The owner of a Norfolk holiday site died after a JCB toppled forward and fell on him, an inquest has heard.

Don Peers, 69, owner of Grasmere caravan park in Caister, died after a JCB toppled over and fell on him. Picture: Angela SharpeDon Peers, 69, owner of Grasmere caravan park in Caister, died after a JCB toppled over and fell on him. Picture: Angela Sharpe

Donald Peers, owner of Grasmere caravan park in Caister-on-Sea, was working on February 12 last year, standing in front of a JCB telehandler and giving directions to the driver when the machine toppled forward and the bucket fell on him.

The 69-year-old from Bultitudes Loke was taken to James Paget University Hospital, where he died later that day from his injuries.

A jury concluded on Tuesday (January 29) that the cause of his death was accidental.

The inquest at Norfolk Coroners Court heard a statement from Laurence Billington, the caravan park’s groundsman.

Carrow House, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is based. Picture: ANTONY KELLYCarrow House, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is based. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

He said that Mr Peers had trained him how to use the JCB and how to counter-balance the machine if it started to tip by retracting the arm.

On February 12 they went to an area of the caravan park called The Marsh to remove a branch from a tree, he said.

The inquest heard there were 1.4 tonnes of gravel in the JCB’s bucket from a previous job.

Using hand signals, Mr Peers directed Mr Billington that he wanted the arm extended but when the groundsman had extended the boom halfway he felt the back of the JCB lift.

He said that he lifted the bucket and retracted the arm to compensate but the front of the JCB tipped forward, with the bucket falling on top of Mr Peers.

Elizabeth Blake, Mr Peers’ daughter, told the inquest that earlier that morning she had seen her father “putting on his overalls and struggling”.

“He looked tired to me. I told him to take it easy. He said there was work to be done,” she said.

Mr Peers was treated at James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston but died in the afternoon.

“Dad was kind, caring, a man of the church,” Ms Blake said.

“His caravan park was his kingdom.”

Jeremy Knowles, an environmental health officer with Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said that an investigation showed the JCB had no defects that caused the accident.

He said that if there is a lot of weight on the extending arm, this will affect the stability of the machine.

Senior Coroner for Norfolk, Jacqueline Lake, expressed her sympathy with Mr Peers’ family.

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