Mechanic died in 'moment of madness,' inquest hears

County Hall in Northampton
Image caption The inquest at County Hall in Northampton heard Peter Hummel had placed his head between the wheel and wheel arch of the truck

A mechanic trying to fix a lorry was killed when he put his head between the wheel and its arch in a "moment of pure madness".

Peter Hummel suffered brain injuries and died instantly in the accident in August.

Forensics investigator, Brian Johnson, said the 56-year-old had decided to "place his head in the crocodile's mouth".

An inquest jury in Northampton returned a conclusion of accidental death.

Mr Hummel, a recovery manager for Leicestershire-based Crouch Recovery, had stopped to help a colleague who was towing a broken down truck.

It had problems with an air bag controlling its suspension and too much air had been pushed into one of the bags, creating a large gap between the wheel and wheel arch.

They were forced to stop at Rothwell, Northamptonshire. In attempting to fix the problem, Mr Hummel had put his head into what Mr Johnson called "an inviting gap".

Mr Johnson said Mr Hummel, from Braunstone, Leicestershire, had most likely cut tie clips which had been holding a metal arm in place.

This caused the arm, which controls the amount of air in the bag, to fall.

'Rush of air'

Air was pushed from the bag and the wheel arch fell back towards the wheel.

Heavy vehicle recovery driver, Adam Collett, said he had been working on the truck with Mr Hummel at the time.

"I heard a sudden rush of air and felt the chassis of the vehicle drop very quickly," he said.

"I scrambled out as I feared getting trapped. Pete was underneath the wheel arch."

Paramedic Shay Cullen said he found Mr Hummel with his "head trapped under a lorry".

He said the wheel arch had been lifted from Mr Hummel's head and he was moved on to the road.

"He had a serious laceration on the back of his head and blood was coming from his ears," Mr Cullen added.

Despite receiving treatment at the scene, Mr Hummel was pronounced dead soon afterwards.

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