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News / FAI hears of tragic death of popular farmer

A SHETLAND farmer died after he become trapped by the loading arms of his tractor, a fatal accident inquiry at Lerwick Sheriff Court heard on Monday morning.

James Bryden Budge was pronounced dead shortly after the accident, which happened on the morning of 14 October last year at Bigton Farm.

The short inquiry before sheriff Philip Mann called no witnesses but heard the details of the tragic accident from a joint minute and an investigation report from the Health and Safety Executive read out by procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie.

The deceased’s widow Helen Budge and his father Jim, as well as other close family, were present at court and listened to the deliberations.

In his submission the fiscal stressed that this “human tragedy” had been caused by an “error of judgement” of a type “we all make every day”.

The inquiry was told that the deceased disconnected a hydraulic hose connecting the lift ramp’s hydraulic circuit while positioned between the loader and the frame of the tractor and the loader being in an elevated position.

This caused the lifting frame to drop in an uncontrolled manner thereby dropping the deceased between the tractor and the frame of the loader.

The fiscal suggested that the 46-year-old farmer left the loader in an elevated position because he was suffering from back pain and found it difficult to bend.

Mr Budge was discovered by his father Jim, who immediately freed him from underneath the loader with the help of a forklift and gave CPR.

The emergency services including the local doctor were called. Mr Budge was pronounced dead at 10am.

In his post mortem report, a senior lecturer at Aberdeen University described the cause of death as traumatic asphyxia.

The fiscal described Mr Budge as “fine, decent man” who was very popular within the local community, in particular within farming and football circles.

Sheriff Mann said he was aiming to make his determination available to the family by the end of this week.

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