Chainsaw ‘jumps up’ and kills man in his back garden

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A CHAINSAW “jumped up” as a man was testing it in his back garden and slashed his neck leaving him fatally injured, an inquest was told.

Peter Conway, 62, died in front of his long-term partner just two days before Christmas last year after the incident outside his bungalow.

He had told his partner Joanne Eland, 53, he was just going to test the tool to see if it was working before lending it to a friend.

She was in the living room of the couple’s home in Hillside Crescent, Brierley, Barnsley, when she heard the motor on the chainsaw start.

She told the hearing she could hear her partner, who had worked for a haulage firm, moving to the rear of the garden.

Although nobody saw the fatal accident occur, Ms Eland said she had rushed out to help him. The couple’s daughter Trudy, 14, also arrived on the scene just after the accident.

A coroner ruled the most likely explanation was that one of the blades on the chainsaw, which was resting on top of an oil drum while it was running, had caught on the metal and jumped up and caught him in the neck.

Ms Eland told the court in a written statement that she looked out of the window and saw Mr Conway “fall back”.

When she went over she saw blood around his neck and said it “looked like the front of his neck was gone”.

Attempts to revive Mr Conway made by his partner, a neighbour and later paramedics could not save him and he was pronounced dead in his garden shortly after the incident, which happened on December 23 last year.

The inquest heard that the cause of death was shock which occurs when severe blood and fluid loss mean the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body.

Ms Eland described her partner of 14 years as a good-natured man who “tended to worry more about others than himself”.

Giving evidence, she told the court that Mr Conway had the chainsaw for about 18 months and would use it for cutting wood but hadn’t used it for about three weeks.

When Ms Eland came out find Mr Conway on the grass, the chainsaw, which was described as “a fairly cheap buy” costing around £49.95, was sitting on top of the upturned oildrum, still running.

Assistant deputy coroner Julian Fox, recording a verdict of accidental death, said: “The most likely explanation is that when holding the chainsaw he inadvertently touched the rim of the oildrum causing the chainsaw to jump up.”

He added: “What it clear is that dangerous tools need to be handled with care and that dangerous tools that are relatively cheap probably need more maintenance.”

Speaking at the time of the accident, his partner said: “I looked through the 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 okay.

“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.

“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.”

Ms Eland said her daughter was “a rock”, and added: “While I rang 999 she ran for a friend to come and help.

“It seemed like hours until the ambulance came but it was only about 10 minutes. They did everything they could, but Peter was gone. There was nothing anybody could do.”