19th Sep, 2019

Inquest hears how engineer plunged 30ft down Warwick lift shaft

Editorial Correspondent 24th Jul, 2017 Updated: 24th Jul, 2017

An AWARD-winning Health and Safety expert died when he plunged 30ft down a lift shaft he was inspecting, an inquest has heard.

James Merritt, age 39, tumbled down the empty shaft of a passenger lift while working at Telent Technologies in Warwick.

The dad-of-two was inspecting lifts at the three-storey building when he died on October 11 last year.

Rescue teams dashed to the industrial park but Mr Merritt – who previously won a national Health and Safety award  – was pronounced dead at the scene.

An inquest heard Mr Merritt, from Hampton Magna, had suffered major head injuries.

Assistant Coroner Delroy Henry said : “He arrived a little after 8am to begin his work.

“He unfortunately was discovered at the bottom of the lift pit where the passenger doors operate just before 1.30pm.

“He suffered major trauma to his head and later died at the scene.”

Gary Gray, a maintenance worker at Telent, told the inquest of the horrific moment he found Mr Merritt lying in a pool of blood in the lift pit.

He said: “I opened the door and found Mr Merritt lying on the floor in the shaft.

“I went down into the pit – he was facing towards the wall with blood all around him, he was making noises. He was bleeding out of the nose – I stepped over him and tried to comfort him.”

In a written statement, Mr Canciani, a technical service manager at the firm said he saw the engineer lying on the floor with a pool of blood under his head.

James’ wife Kimberley, who he had been with for nearly 13 years, was asked to describe how she met James and describe his character.

She said: “I met James on a holiday in Cyprus. It was a chance meeting, I had gone on holiday with a friend and he had gone with friends and we happened to get talking.

“We had a two-year long distance relationship – it developed into something special very quickly.

“We got married on July 21 2007, exactly three years from the day we met and last Friday it should have been my ten-year wedding anniversary.

“We had two children – a son Oliver, who is six years old, and a daughter, Evelyn, who is two years old.

“James was a very understated man, he was very quiet and unassuming – he never sought the attention.

“He was the most caring and attentive man I have ever known. I don’t think I will meet another man who cared as much as he did.

“When we met, he was a mechanical engineer for a cement factory. It was a very similar role but not the same as he did at the time of his death.”

Mr Merritt had been an engineer for more than 20 years and excelled in health and safety exams, achieving 92 per cent instead of the average 80 per cent.

In 2014 he received an award. Speaking after he was crowned Engineer Surveyor of the Year, Mr Merritt said: “Identifying defects that could become a danger to people is something I will never tire of.”

The five-day hearing at Warwickshire Coroners Court continues.

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