A binman with 20 years’ experience was killed when he was dragged under the wheels of his runaway lorry in Watford, a jury heard today (Thursday, March 5).
Peter Coleman, 54, was working alone at the Woodside Leisure Park in Kingsway, Watford when he tried to stop the Volvo lorry rolling down an embankment.
The father-of-two, from Dunstable, was fatally injured after becoming trapped under the rear axle early in the morning of Saturday, October 11, 2014.
Prosecutor Vivek D’Cruz told Luton Crown Court: “He was trapped for some considerable time before being freed. Tragically, he passed away a short time later in hospital.”
Mr Coleman’s employers, the waste collection company F and R Cawley Limited of Covent Garden Close, Luton, plead not guilty to four charges of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Mr D’Cruz continued: “Mr Coleman was driving on his own. It was a refuse collection vehicle that had the facility to lift bins. While he was operating the lift, the vehicle started to drive itself.
“In a panic, to stop the runaway vehicle, he chased and fell and got caught under its wheels.”
Mr Coleman was knowledgeable and experienced, having worked in refuse collection for 20 years. On that day he was on a route that would take him to 20 different sites where he would operate a mechanism that lifted bins and tipped their contents into the back of the lorry.
He drove into Woodside Leisure Park, which was his first stop, at about 6.07am. CCTV from the site showed him reversing into an alley to the bin area. As he was operating the lifting system, the lorry began to move away.
The prosecutor added: “It was driverless and moved towards a downward and sloping embankment. He desperately chased the vehicle. He was unable to get into it before it dropped over an embankment where it came to rest.
“He was pulled under the rear offside axis.”
There was an explosion and tyres were on fire. Police, fire fighters and ambulance crew were despatched. One fire fighterturned off the ignition and put the lorry into neutral.
Mr Coleman was freed and airlifted to hospital, where he died.
The case is ongoing and the jury has been told it could go on to May 1.