Stokesley Show president and retired magistrate died when he was crushed by a telehandler on his family farm

A well-known North Yorkshire farmer died in a horrific accident when he was crushed by the vehicle he was driving, an inquest has heard.

John Seymour, left, with his son Tom

John Seymour, 73, died in September 2020 at Dromonby Farm in Kirkby in Cleveland, which his family have owned since 1973.

The cereal crop farmer, former magistrate, Stokesley Show president and NFU branch chairman was helping his son Tom transport hay bales from a field when the Kramer 8115 wheeled loader he was driving overturned on a private farm track and landed on top of him.

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Tom, who had left the same field in another vehicle ahead of his father, became concerned when he did not return to the farmhouse for dinner and found him unresponsive on the ground beneath the cab. He died at the scene from traumatic abdominal and thoracic injuries.

The inquest, which was attended by Tom, his wife Alison, brother Patrick and sister Rosie, heard that Mr Seymour had taken a step back from the day-to-day running of the business, which also includes fishing lakes and a composting service, but remained the sold proprietor and was an active working party. He was described as an 'instrumental' member of the family who had begun to recover from the death of his wife Caroline, a reitred teacher and county councillor, from cancer a year previously.

In a statement, Tom Seymour said: "He was hit hard by Mum's death, but had started to look to the future again. He loved people and social occasions. He was very keen on rugby, and had played for Yorkshire himself and loved watching his sons and grandsons play. He had an active interest in local and national farming affairs.

"Life has been very different since John died - he was a big part of our lives. For his age he was active and in good health, and he was a competent driver of farm machinery who was confident at the controls. We have very fond memories of him."

A postmortem established that Mr Seymour had no drugs or alcohol in his system and that although he suffered from a number of medical conditions including chronic kidney disease, hypertension, gout and arthritis, none had contributed to his death.

A Health and Safety Executive report found that the Kramer was only three years old and had no defects. However, Mr Seymour was known to travel without a seatbelt when on private roads and often left the door on the latch for ventilation rather than activate the air conditioning system.

North Yorkshire Police forensic collision investigator Sergeant Ken Riley agreed that the seatbelt appeared to have been stowed rather than used, and that the cab door was open at the time of the incident. The loading shovel was carrying one 400kg bale, which was way below the vehicle's safe capacity.

Sergeant Riley said that Mr Seymour had negotiated one bend successfully but lost control at a second turn in the track, sending the telehandler, which had a maximum speed of 25mph, down an embankment around a metre higher than the field.

"There was nothing restraining him in the cab and it rolled on top of him. I am unable to determine an exact cause; there is no evidence of mobile phone use, a medical episode, excess loading, or third party involvement. I expect there was a lapse in concentration or a momentary distraction."

Mr Seymour, who was a cattle class steward and commentator, is also survived by his fourth child, daughter Hannah, and 10 grandchildren. His funeral cortege passed through his home village and the Stokesley Show field to St Joseph's Church in Stokesley, followed by a wake at Middlesbrough Rugby Club.

Assistant coroner for North Yorkshire Richard Watson recorded a conclusion of death caused by a road traffic accident.