THE best friend of a man crushed by a falling anchor told an inquest of how he tried to administer first aid and keep his friend’s spirits up as he lay dying.
The inquest heard that father-of-two Kevin Watson, of Redcar, was working at Middlesbrough dry dock in February, 2009 when the accident happened.
Several of Mr Watson’s workers gave testimony to say they were never given formal, written training on how to deal with anchors and chains from ships coming for repairs.
However Mr Watson, originally from Hemlington, Middlesbrough, a crane driver, was a highly experienced worker who had dealt with anchors many times before.
Since the accident his employer, A&P Tees, has stopped overseeing the dropping of anchors of ships that come in to the dock for repair and more health and safety procedures have been put in place, Middlesbrough Coroner’s Court was told.
Stephen French was one of two men working with Mr Watson on the floor of dock when the Sand Heron ship came in on February 11. He explained that anchors are never left upright for safety reasons as they usually fall easily.
However, on this occasion an anchor, thought to weigh up to two-and-a-half or three tons, would not fall because it was so rusty. It had already been banged hard on being lowered from the ship and the crane driver had pulled it twice but it would not move.
Mr French was sent by Mr Watson to straighten chains already lowered elsewhere on the dock while Mr Watson tried to deal with the anchor with Glyn Middleton, a novice who had only been working on the dock for two weeks.
Mr French said: “I heard a thud and turned round. All I could see was a yellow helmet under the anchor. I looked at Glyn Middleton’s face and I knew it was Kevin.”
Mr French ran back and shouted to the crane driver to slowly lift the weight off Mr Watson’s body. He laid down with Mr Watson until he was asked to get medical supplies.
Mr French said he was so traumatised he had been forced to accept counselling, was unable to return to work for some time and will not work with anchors or the crane used on that day.
Mr Watson’s best friend, Ryan Defoe, also known as Clarky, was working elsewhere on the dry dock when he heard something was wrong on a works radio. As a trained first-aider he ran to the scene.
He said: “There was blood coming out of his mouth and ears. A paramedic arrived and I let him take care of Kevin. I knew at the time there was a lot of injuries but I tried to keep his spirits up.”
At that point Mr Defoe was unable to continue but his statement was read out by deputy coroner Samuel Faulks who explained Mr Watson had repeatedly said, "get me out of here", until he was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital.
Mr Watson’s mother, Patricia Watson, 76, who was at the inquest, was called to identify her son’s body later that day. His children, who he adored and saw very regularly, were aged 12 and 16 at the time of the accident.
The inquest continues.