THE devastated partner of a man who was killed in a freak accident with a chainsaw yesterday described the horrific moments leading up to his death.
Joanne Eland, 52, said she had been watching as Peter Conway, 62, fell backwards after slicing his neck with the machine two days before Christmas.
She said she rushed out to help him but said he had died instantly. The couple’s daughter Trudy, 14, also arrived on the scene just after the accident.
Ms Elland, of Hillside Crescent, Brierley, near Barnsley, said: “It was about 10.30am and Peter had gone into the garden to test the chainsaw for a friend who wanted to borrow it.
“He had the chainsaw on top of an oil drum he used to burn things in and he was standing in front of it to test it worked.
“I heard the chainsaw start up in the garden and came through from the living room to see what Peter was doing.
“I looked through the kitchen window into the garden and just saw Peter falling backwards, away from the chainsaw, which was still on the drum.
“I didn’t know what had happened. I thought he may have just slipped or something but I went out to see if he was OK.
“When I got to him, it was dreadful. He was in a bad state. There was blood and he had a huge cut across his neck. It was horrific.
“We don’t know what happened exactly but the only thing I can think is that the chainsaw jumped up and the force threw him backwards. It had to have killed him instantly, because from what I saw, there was no way he could have survived that.”
Ms Eland said her daughter Trudy was “a rock”, who took charge and added: “I was panicking, I didn’t know what to do. But it was like Trudy clocked into calm mode and she was telling me to call an ambulance.
“While I rang 999 she ran for a friend to come and help. The emergency services told me to get a clean towel to try and compress the bleeding, but it was too late.
“It seemed like hours until the ambulance came but it was only about 10 to 15 minutes. They did everything they could, but Peter was gone. There was nothing anybody could do,” she said.
Describing the days since the accident, Joanne said: “Christmas was obviously awful. I’ve just tried to keep everything normal for our baby Trudy.
“We were planning a lovely Christmas together, at home like we always did. I just can’t believe this has happened.”
Ms Eland said she didn’t know why the friend wanted the chainsaw but said if anyone wanted something from her partner, he had to do it straight away.
She added: “If he had a fiver in his pocket, he would have given it to you.
“He was such a loving man and he loved his family. It’s still raw, it’s unbelievable.”
Mr Conway did not work as he suffered from emphysema and bronchitis and had been in hospital for treatment just a fortnight before his death.
Debbie Martin, the landlady of Brierley Social Club, where Mr Conway was a regular, said he was a popular man.
She added: “He was a very liked gentleman. He would do anything for anyone if he could. He came in every day, only for a few hours but it was what he liked to do.
‘He was very popular with the other customers, they always spoke and had good conversations.”
A South Yorkshire Police major incident unit attended the scene on Friday lunchtime but officers said there was nothing suspicious about the tragic death after carrying out an initial investigation.
A post-mortem examination was carried out on Wednesday which showed that Mr Conway, who also had two grown-up children, bled to death.
An inquest has been opened and adjourned.