Son sounds warning after farm accident tragedy

Thursday, 20 July 2017

THE tragic death of a 75-year-old Carrickmore man has prompted his son to remind farmers they are not invulnerable and they had to pace themselves accordingly when dealing with the rigours their workplace demanded.

Aidan O'Neill, who works at the Campsie Veterinary Centre in Omagh, said the family was "overwhelmed" by the support they had received right across the community following the death of his father, Peter O'Neill, at his farm at Termon Road on Wednesday evening of last week.

He confirmed his late father had been working on a Kubota utility vehicle when the accident occurred. A Kubota is a small buggy-like vehicle a little bigger than a quad which Mr O'Neill used in the course of his daily farm work.

"He had it for the past few years and it was his pride and joy He would drive around the farm and to various outfarms every day. It made a very distinctive noise so you would hear him before you saw him. He could be spotted going up and down the road three or four times a day on it. It suited him down to the ground. It wasn't fast but gave him plenty of opportunity to get about," he said.

Mr O'Neill said his late father, a beef farmer, has been in "excellent health" and the family expected him to continue working for years.

"We tried to get him to slow down a little and keep fewer cattle as we were a bit worried he might be injured by an animal at some stage, but he refused to accept he needed to take things a little easier."

He added this was a trait of men of his father's generation who sometimes did not realise old age was slowing them down.


"He, like others, believe they could keep going on forever and nothing was going to happen to them," he said.

Mr O'Neill said the family was very grateful and touched by all the support they had received since news of the tragedy had come out.


"Because of his occupation, and my occupation, huge numbers of the farming community came out and when you talked to them it was striking how so many knew exactly how you felt because they had been in similar situations themselves. Indeed they came in groups because they knew what it felt like for us."

He also said they were grateful to all the support they had received from their neighbours.

"Car loads landed almost immediately when the news got out and they couldn't have done enough. There was more than one person offering to do anything we needed or wanted from both sides of the community. They understood what it meant and how it felt. They just wanted to come and show their support and respect," he said.


He pointed out that the family also received comfort on hearing so many stories of how their late father had helped others over the years.

"We were overwhelmed by the number of people that came to the house, especially bearing in mind it was holiday time and there were a lot of people away and hadn't heard. We're getting those people calling around today."

Requiem Mass for the late Mr O'Neill was held in St Colmcille's Church, Carrickmore, on Saturday where local parish priest, Fr Sean O'Neill, officiated and afterwards at the burial in the adjoining cemetery.

Fr O'Neill delivered a touching ceremony describing the deceased as a man of the land who had lived a life that had helped so many people in different ways.

Sympathy was extended to the late Mr O'Neill's wife, Anna, sons, Aidan, Barry, Darren and Paul; sisters Anne McLaughlin, Belfast and Mary McRory, Carrickmore and the late Ellen; brother, Tommy, grandson, Eoghan and the wide circle of family and friends.

The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed it is investigating the incident and has extended its sympathy to the family. Sympathy has also been extended by local MP, Barry McElduff, who said it was sad to hear that the late Mr O'Neill had died in such circumstances. He described him as a decent and hard-working man.

Ulster Farmers' Union president, Barclay Bell, also extended the organisation's sympathy to the O'Neill family and to all families who had lost loved ones in farm accidents.

"It is a tragic reminder that farms are busy workplaces and can sometimes be dangerous," he said.


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