Son ‘didn’t see’ father he ran over with tractor

The man was giving evidence at Livingston Sheriff Court
The man was giving evidence at Livingston Sheriff Court
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A man broke down in tears yesterday as he recalled the moment he fatally injured his dad in a tragic farm accident.

Brian Reid said he first suspected something was wrong when he felt a “bump” under the wheels of his tractor as he spread hay in the cowshed.

He told a fatal accident inquiry that he stopped and got out then saw his 84-year-old father Jock sitting on the floor screaming in agony.

His wife Elizabeth, who had been working in a neighbouring shed, administered first aid while Mr Reid ran to the farmhouse to phone for help.

Paramedics arrived within 10 minutes of the 999 emergency call but Mr Reid died from abdominal and chest injuries shortly after his arrival at Forth Valley Hospital.

Mr Reid, 43, said he thought his dad was getting the cows ready for afternoon milking at the family-run Ballencrieff Farm near Bathgate, West Lothian, while he spread straw in the cowshed – their usual daily work routine.

He said he had no idea his father was in the shed when he reversed the tractor in and started spreading straw for their herd of cows to rest on after milking.

Giving evidence at Livingston Sheriff Court, he said: “As I was driving forward I felt the tractor bump over what I thought was a lump of straw to begin with, but I thought the bump was bigger than what it’s usually like.

“I stopped and I looked out of the tractor because it didn’t feel right at the time. I looked back and saw my dad lying.”

Mr Baird became visibly distressed at this point and paused to wipe away tears.

He continued: “He was sitting up. He was screaming in pain. I hadn’t seen him entering the shed. He’d normally be at the next building where all the dairy cows are. He’d be in preparing the machines for milking the cows while I’d be doing the tractor work.”

Mr Reid said that while driving the tractor he continually had to look backwards to check the straw spreader was working and forwards to see where he was going.

The vehicle – which travelled at one or two miles an hour during the spreading – was not fitted with an alarm which would beep while it was reversing. In addition, Mr Reid said his father was dressed in dark clothing – a blue boiler suit and green jacket – which would have made him difficult to see.

Mr Reid confirmed he had complied with Health & Safety Executive instructions the day after the accident to fix one of the tractor’s brakes and its steering, and to fit wing mirrors.

Fiscal depute Brian Robertson read the inquiry a statement from the deceased’s wife Morag, 78, in which she revealed he had been successfully treated for bowel cancer but had “mobility problems” due to pain in his legs.

She told police that on the day of the accident he seemed to be “in a bit of a rush to get everything done”. She said: “He’d normally sit on the wall until Brian had finished spreading then he’d go in and break up any clumps of straw. Brian came running in and shouted to me. He said he’d run Jock over with the tractor.

“I went to the cowshed and I could see Jock lying on the ground. I shouted over and Jock responded by lifting his arm up.”

She said Mr Reid was still reacting to her voice and presence when he was put in the ambulance and taken to hospital.

He died at 6:20pm on December 11, 2011 – two hours after the accident.

The inquiry continues.