Man killed by tree in ‘tragic accident’

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A SPRINGFIELD man killed by a falling tree as his son watched in horror died as a result of a ‘tragic accident’, a sheriff has ruled.

Norman Robertson (67) died at around 10.20am on May 14 this year in an area of woodland on the Brigton Estate near St Andrews.

Mr Robertson, a semi-retired timber merchant and sawmiller, had been felling trees with his son, also called Norman.

Sheriff Charles Macnair QC, who presided over a fatal accident inquiry on November 1, presented his formal written determination this week.

He wrote: “This tragic accident occurred during tree felling operations.

“The deceased had long experience in this type of work having run his own timber business prior to retirement.

“He had purchased an area of standing timber and on the morning of the accident he and his son were felling an area of that timber.

“While working on one tree another tree which had been partially cut through fell on him.

“His son attempted to draw his attention to the falling tree but was unable to do so.”

Sheriff Macnair found that Mr Robertson snr. died as a result of thoracic injuries, blunt force trauma and being crushed by a falling tree during a tree felling operation.

The inquiry heard on November 1 that Mr Robertson snr. and his son were were clearing woodland for landowner John Purvis, a former Member of the European Parliament.

The pair were working on a 67-foot tree by a riverbank when their sledgehammer broke.

Mr Robertson snr. decided to move on to another task 20 to 30 feet away, leaving the tree balancing.

Tragedy struck when the swirling wind caught the tree and it fell on Mr Robertson snr., who did not hear his son’s frantic shouts.

Harry Bottesch, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, told the inquiry Mr Robertson snr. was an experienced tree feller, but said if he had not been working within the ‘danger zone’ of the unfallen tree he would not have been killed.