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Action 'not ruled out' over death of farmer

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: February 02, 2010

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Police have not ruled out the possibility of prosecuting the fire brigade over the death of Burtle farmer Harold Lee.

The 75-year-old was riding a quad bike on August 12, 2009, behind his 100-head herd of cattle as he and his son, Richard, were taking the animals to be milked at Robins Farm.

It is believed that a fire engine, which was attending an emergency call, passed the two vehicles as it approached the herd of cows in the road.

The vehicle stopped while the Lees tried to move their cattle, but the animals stampeded.

Mr Lee suffered multiple injuries to his ribs, leg and chest in the accident and was airlifted to the Royal United Hospital, in Bath, before being transferred to Frenchay Hospital, in Bristol, where he died.

The incident prompted Burtle Parish Council to write to Lee Howell, Chief Fire Officer for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, voicing concerns that fire engines continued to use the village as a shortcut, even after Mr Lee's death.

Police said the stampede which led to Mr Lee's death is still under investigation, in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive.

A spokesman for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said a fire engine was responding to a call to a road accident when it encountered the animals.

"A man was injured by stampeding cattle, and firefighters gave first aid at the scene prior to the arrival of the ambulance service," he said.

"As this matter is now under police investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."

A spokesman for the police said they were still investigating the accident, while working with the Health and Safety Executive, but they believed the inquiry was drawing to a close.

"At this point, nothing has been ruled out," he said.

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