Hot tub death was an unpredictable accident

THE death of a crane company boss who was crushed by a falling hot tub was an accident which could not have been predicted, a coroner has ruled.

Michael Burcombe, who was 73, was hit when a crane lifting the tub from the front to the back garden of a house in Springleaze, Mangotsfield, tipped as the concrete drive it was parked on collapsed.

An air ambulance landed at nearby Barley Close Primary School and several other ambulance crews were sent to help after the incident on September 13, 2021.

However Mr Burcombe died of his injuries at the scene.

Mr Burcombe was a director of Burcombe Crane Hire Ltd, a family-run company which operated from Coalpit Heath, near Yate, where he lived.

An inquest at Avon Coroner’s Court in July heard that his son Ashley was driving the crane and his grandson Ty Nethercott was signalling, as Mr Burcombe guided the load in the back garden, the BBC reported.

Suddenly part of the concrete driveway the crane was sitting on gave way and the tub swung forward further than expected, trapping him, and while his son and grandson prised it off him, he had suffered multiple fatal injuries.

His son told the inquest the business was now being wound up and he would never drive a crane again.

Mr Burcombe had carried out a risk assessment which found that the crane could safely lift the tub, although its stabilising outriggers could not all be extended in the confined space available.

Ruling that Mr Burcombe’s death was accidental, coroner Dr Peter Harrowing said: “He could not, and neither could Ashley, have predicted that the concrete would fracture and give way when it did.”

The Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation after the incident but delayed its conclusion to wait for the inquest to be completed.

An HSE spokesperson said: “We took immediate enforcement action at the time of the incident to ensure the company had procedures in place to ensure future lifts were planned safely.

“We will review the matters raised at inquest before concluding our investigation.”