Farmer, 78, suffocated after getting stuck in a 20ft grain silo

Farmer, 78, suffocated after getting stuck in a 20ft grain silo while helping unload a lorry, inquest hears

  • John Edwards sank into grain after climbing into a brick store bin in Suffolk 
  • Farm hand desperately tried to dig him out and clear his airway at Hestley Green 
  • Coroner says that it is unclear why Mr Edwards had climbed into the bin
  • Says that safety features made it ‘virtually impossible’ for him to fall in 

A respected farmer died from suffocation after he became completely submerged in grain in a 20ft deep silo, an inquest heard.

John Edwards, 78, sank into the grain after he climbed into the brick store bin while helping to load lorries with grain.

His wife Susan raised the alarm after finding he was missing at 5.45pm on February 14 this year at Rishangles Lodge farm in Hestley Green near Eye, Suffolk.

John Edwards (pictured, left) suffocated after climbing into the brick store bin (pictured, right, a stock photo of a grain store bin)

Farm worker Christopher Zagni climbed on a catwalk over the silo and saw a patch of cloth on the top of the grain which turned out to be Mr Edwards’ shirt collar.

Mr Zagni desperately dug him out with his hands and tried to clear his airway, but he was pronounced dead by paramedics at 7.17pm.

Suffolk senior coroner Nigel Parsley said it was not known why Mr Edwards had climbed into the silo.

Mr Parsley said safety features, including metal railings on the gantry and a metal grate inside, made it ‘virtually impossible’ for Mr Edwards to have fallen in.

The inquest at Suffolk Coroner’s Court in Ipswich heard how he would have been already dead when his body was spotted.

Pathologist Katie Dickinson said she believed he was found ‘some time’ after he had died and there was ‘no chance of resuscitation’.

It is not clear why the farmer climbed into the bin on his his Suffolk farm (pictured, a grain store in Berkshire) 

His medical cause of death was given as traumatic asphyxiation caused by a large weight of grain compressing his chest.

A jury returned a conclusion that the death of Mr Edwards who lived and worked on the farm for 66 years was accidental.

Mrs Edwards told the inquest that her husband was ‘perfectly OK’ when she last saw him doing a crossword, while eating a chocolate éclair – his favourite lunch.

She described him as ‘a very hard working farmer who had recently retired.’

Mrs Edwards said in a statement: ‘He very much enjoyed his farm, his family and his new sports car. He also enjoyed a joke and was in high spirits before his death.

‘He was well liked and respected in the community and that was reflected at his funeral. I think this paints a picture of a happy family man who enjoyed life to the full.’

Mr Edwards’ family added after the hearing: ‘Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us since the tragic death of John. His passing has been a great loss to his family, friends and community.

‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank the professionals involved over the last few months.

‘We wish to move on form the vents of John’s sudden death to remember our beloved husband, father and brother in peace.’ 


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