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Boy died after jumping from runaway vehicle, inquest hears

09 Apr 2024 4 minute read
South Wales Central Coroner’s Court. Photo via Google

A nine-year-old boy died after being struck when his family attempted to jump from a runaway vehicle they feared could fall off a cliff, an inquest has heard.

Tomos Rhys Bunford died from injuries to his chest and abdomen in an incident on farmland near Blaenllechau in the Rhondda on September 6, 2021.

South Wales Central Coroner’s Court heard that the young boy was in the back of his family’s truck when it went out of control and his father, Rhys Bunford, called for the family to jump from the vehicle, fearing it could fall into a disused quarry.

As they jumped, Tomos’ mum, Louise Bunford, tried to push her son clear of the vehicle, which was towing a heavy water bowser on a trailer.

Tomos was hit as the Mitsubishi Warrior and the attached trailer jack-knifed down the slope.

Track marks show the vehicle skidded around 86 metres down the incline.

At an inquest on Tuesday, the coroner’s court heard the incident happened as the family had been going to water their cows which lived on the land.

Helping

His father spoke of how his son had loved helping with his family farm, often telling classmates about feeding the animals and he had a young calf he walked around the yard on a lead.

Mr Bunford told the coroner the trip was something the family had done many times before, with older brother Gethin, mum Louise and baby Clemmie also in the truck.

He was emotional as he told Assistant Coroner Gavin Knox that as the vehicle had started to go out of control he feared it would fall off a “sheer drop” into a disused quarry at the bottom of the slope.

Mr Bunford said: “We all left to go over just like we did the week before.

“We didn’t do anything different from any other day, we went the same route down an incline.

“As we were going down my son Gethin is in the passenger’s seat, directly behind me would be our young baby, my wife Louise would have been in the centre and Tomos would have been to the left.

“About halfway down the slope, it started to slip. There’s a quarry (at the bottom of the slope) and it’s a sheer drop.

“I thought it would be safer to exit the vehicle than wait to see what happens down there.”

Jack-knifed

He said as the vehicle began to pick up speed the bowser was jack-knifing, forcing the vehicle around 180 degrees.

Mr Bunford said his initial fear was for his baby Clemmie because she was unable to run from the vehicle’s path.

In the incident, his wife was hit and had to be pulled from underneath the truck.

Mrs Bunford added that she initially thought her young son was safe after she had pushed him from the vehicle, it was only when she looked over she saw that he was injured.

Emergency services attended the incident and attempted to resuscitate Tomos.

Mr Knox, the coroner, read statements from expert witnesses, who listed factors that could have contributed to the incident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the braking mechanism on the trailer was defective, meaning its towing capacity was reduced to 750kg. It was carrying a load of 2,240kg.

The investigator also found that the tyres on the Mitzubishi were mismatched and not suitable for off-road use, while the water bowser was also only three-quarters full, and the water movement possibly added to the steering issues.

Mr Knox recorded a conclusion of accidental death caused by blunt force injuries to the chest and abdomen.


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Gareth Westacott
Gareth Westacott
1 month ago

Poor boy!

Stuart Mountjoy
Stuart Mountjoy
1 month ago

Omg, such a heartbreaking story… By the sounding of it, as I’ve read/digested/interpreted…. A lovely bonded family sharing time & chores. A regular and routine short trip to tend to the animals, no doubt uneventful I’d expect every prior occasion, perhaps that is apart from wholesome jokes, teasing, song or idle chatter to simple pass the moments before the main event….. I can but only imagine how it usually played out… Dad gets to it, that is, the rigmarole of readying the bowser and whatever storage/dispensing vessels the cattle used there, big brother keenly wishing to replicate his father’s actions… Read more »

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