Blurton OAP killed by crane after falling in road
PENSIONER Jack Link died after stumbling under the wheels of a 40-ton crane.
The 72-year-old suffered fatal head injuries in the accident at Heron Cross roundabout on the A50 on September 30 last year.
An inquest into Mr Link's death, held at Hartshill yesterday, heard that the retired plumber had been about to cross the slip road on his way home to Blurton.
Witnesses saw him fall into the road just as a Grove mobile crane, driven by Nicholas Goodwin, was passing.
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The vehicle's back wheel ran over Mr Link and killed him instantly.
North Staffordshire Coroner Ian Smith recorded a verdict of accidental death, saying there was nothing Mr Goodwin could have done to avoid hitting the pedestrian.
Mr Link's widow, Ann Link, told the court that her husband had been a relatively fit and healthy man who regularly walked to his allotment at Fenton from their home in Laburnum Grove.
She said he always preferred to cross the A50 at the roundabout, despite there being safer crossing points. Mrs Link said: "He never used the underpass, unless he was with me.
"I didn't cross that road, it's dangerous. But he said you could get mugged in the underpass.
"Stoke City supporters cross there as well.
"I don't understand why there isn't anything to stop people doing it."
Mrs Link last saw her husband on the morning of September 30 before she went to Hanley with her sister.
When she returned home that afternoon she was surprised Mr Link was not back, but was subsequently told what had happened by police.
Mr Goodwin, who operated cranes for Longton Crane Hire, told the inquest that he had been driving back to his depot.
He had reached the roundabout and was about to head down the slip road when he caught sight of Mr Link.
Mr Goodwin said: "He seemed to look unwell. I don't know if he was having a heart attack, he just didn't look right.
"He leaned back and then fell forward. He just couldn't stop himself from falling. I tried to swerve, but you just can't swerve a crane like that. It's not like swerving a car.
"If I hadn't been watching him in my mirror I could have driven back to the depot and not even realised that I'd hit him. You just can't feel it."
Mr Goodwin immediately stopped and called 999, but he knew Mr Link could not have survived the accident.
Warren Daniel was driving a Ford Transit tipper just behind the crane and corroborated Mr Goodwin's account of the accident.
He told the inquest that he had stopped his vehicle and tried to prevent traffic going down the slip road.
An examination of the crane found it had no mechanical defects, and Staffordshire Police took no action against Mr Goodwin.
Mr Link's post mortem examination revealed that he had been drinking prior to the accident, although not excessively.
The inquest also heard that the pensioner had a considerably enlarged heart, indicating some sort of heart disease.
Mr Smith said it was impossible to know why Mr Link fell into the road.
He said: "Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the alcohol. Maybe it was his heart. It could have been a combination of all three."