Leeds & West Yorkshire

Man crushed to death by 'floating' lorry in Leeds

Bridgewater Place
Image caption The inquest was told the accident spot had become known for strong winds

A man was crushed to death by a lorry which "floated through the air like a hot-air balloon" in strong winds and landed on him, an inquest has heard.

Edward Slaney, 35, of Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, was crushed by the vehicle near Leeds' tallest building, Bridgewater Place, last March.

Driver Paul Bartle's lorry landed on Mr Slaney and a 22-year-old woman who was also seriously injured.

A witness told the inquest it was like something out of a "twister film".

Mr Bartle told Leeds Coroner's Court he had made his way to the city centre to escape gale-force winds and was driving past Bridgewater Place.

He said: "I was doing about 20mph, the next thing I remember is I'm on my side.

"I floated through the air. It just carried me - it was just like a hot-air balloon going up."

'Freakishly high' winds

Witness Andrew McKenzie told the inquest he and other bystanders, along with a team of workmen with a digger, helped lift the lorry off Mr Slaney and the woman.

Mr McKenzie said: "A soon as it [the lorry] came out of the shadow of the building, that was when it all went wrong.

"It was mad - it got lifted up like a bit of paper and got thrown across the road."

Image caption The accident caused traffic delays in the city centre

Another witness, Paul Pheasey, said in a statement read out in court: "It was as if to compare something to a twister film shown on television."

The inquest was told Mr Slaney, an environmental engineer, died of chest injuries.

The woman suffered serious internal injuries and is now afraid to go outside when it is windy, the court heard.

PC Noel Lowdon told the hearing the accident spot had become known for strong winds and that day "freakishly high" speeds of between 67mph and 79mph were recorded at the building.

The court heard that people had been complaining to Leeds City Council of a "wind-tunnel effect" at Bridgewater Place since 2008.

Daljit Singh, deputy area planning officer at the council since January 2009, told the inquest that it had taken measures to protect pedestrians by erecting barriers in the area.

But he said he had no knowledge of whether anything had been done to protect high-sided vehicles, such as lorries, from the wind.

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