Inquest hears Berkshire man died after lorry touched power cables
A 41-year-old man died following a "flash" and "spark" after the grabbers on the back of a lorry he was operating touched overhead power cables - an inquest has heard. Levi Louis Alleyne, who was affectionately known as "Chunky" died on November 16, 2020, following the incident. Eyewitnesses told Reading Coroner's Court they couldn't assess Mr Alleyne before the emergency services arrived as the line was still sparking and the ground was wet.
Grahame Tilley, who owns the land next to where building works were taking place, saw the incident for himself. He recalls watching the 41-year-old collapse from the lorry. "Chunky's hands were on the hands of the lorry and then I saw him collapse to the floor," he said. "I knew what had happened you could see the scorch marks." The farmer struggled when thinking back to the incident and described it as "devastating" to watch. READ MORE: Reading woman in coma in Spain as family battle to get her home
Mr Tilley had never met Mr Alleyne and at the time of the incident, he was using a telehandler to move hay bales into his barn in Arborfield. MrTilley could see the sparks from the telehandler and immediately made his way toward the scene to take a look at what had happened and warn the others. Nick Gorst and his son Sam Gorst, who were working alongside Mr Alleyne for a contractor called BBM Construction Ltd, were also on the scene, delivering materials onto the property.
Mr Tilley said: "When I saw the flash I looked over and saw what had gone on. "I immediately got out of the telehandler to go to see what... I knew what had happened, but I could hear Sam shouting to Chunky and I went to Sam and I said please keep away at the moment.
It could have been a possibility that he could have got hurt as well." Mr Alleyne and the Gorsts were delivering material onto the property of Graeme Cooper, who was looking to build a cake college with his wife Lucy. Before the incident occurred Mr Cooper was in his dining room, but at around 11.30am he decided to travel outside to see what was being delivered.
Walking up towards the rear of the lorry Mr Cooper witnessed the fatal moment. He saw Mr Alleyne lift the grabber of the lorry up and in a split second realised that it was going to touch the overhead cables. Mr Cooper told the inquest: "The arm of the grabber had started to rise.
It rose and paused for a second and then I realise it looks like a very serious risk, and as I began to yell stop the incident happened." According to Mr Cooper there was then "a puff of smoke" and Mr Alleyne "was thrown away from the truck". Mr Cooper immediately called 999, but he said that he was unable to assess him as everything was still sparking.
He explained: "There was a lot of sparking going on [...] It was sparking for about four minutes. It was a wet day." The 999 call that Mr. Cooper had made was played to the jury.
During the roughly four-minute phone call, Mr Cooper told the call handler that "he's [Mr Alleyne] not breathing" and that they "can't get close to him" due to the sparking power lines. The emergency services handler then tells him "do not go closer than 80 yards to where you are." The ambulance arrived at the scene of the incident at around 11.48am and Mr.
Cooper ran onto Swallowfield Road to flag it down. An air ambulance was also called and paramedics found that the patient had a bruise on his shoulder and a burnt wrist. Dr Thomas Cook was working a 7am to 7pm shift with the air ambulance and was called to the incident to assess the patient.
Mr Alleyne was without a pulse when Dr Cook arrived and in a statement, he said that they had "treated him [Mr Alleyne] as having had a high voltage electric shock." From 11.52 am to 12.15pm Dr Cook attempted to resuscitate Mr Alleyne to no avail. At 12.15pm Dr Cook stopped resuscitation and he announced the patient's death at 12.17pm.
The doctor said that what happened was "incredibly sad" and offered his condolences to the family. Both Grahame Tilley and Graeme Cooper also offered their condolences to the family. Mr Cooper said: "It has been hard for us who have witnessed it but it is far worse for them."
The jury inquest began on Monday, September 26, and is set to take place over the course of 12 days.
Coroner Katy Thorne will be looking to answer questions about what happened to Mr Alleyne and will not be focusing on assigning responsibility or blame.