Castlederg farmer killed by tree to be laid to rest

Castlederg First Presbyterian Church, Garvetagh, where the late Ernest Emery will be buried from today
Castlederg First Presbyterian Church, Garvetagh, where the late Ernest Emery will be buried from today

It is hoped some lessons may be learnt from the death of an elderly farmer, who is due to be laid to rest on Tuesday.

A funeral service will be held at Castlederg’s First Presbyterian Church this afternoon for Ernest Emery, 73, who was killed when a tree which he had chopped down apparently rolled on top of him.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation is now taking place into how the tragedy could have happened, and the head of the UFU has claimed the incident serves to highlight both the do-it-yourself attitude of the farming community, and the dangers that they face.

The tree had already been felled and stripped of branches when the accident occurred on Friday at the remote Lettercarn Road, to the south of Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

Cousin Jim Emery, 69, a retired UUP councillor, said yesterday when the body was discovered the tree was resting on his back.

“I think the post-mortem just said ‘multiple injuries’,” he told the News Letter.

“I suppose no one will ever know for sure, but he had it branched alright, and it must have rolled on top of him.”

He was always careful in his work though, he said, adding that he was “highly respected” and would be “sadly missed in a lot of places”.

Asked if the tragedy could offer a warning to others, he said: “I suppose you’re quite right. Hopefully it’ll be a learning exercise to the farming community.”

One lesson would be that, whenever there is a risky job, consideration should be given to taking along a colleague.

“We all think we can do it ourselves, I suppose,” he said. “But these things happen.”

UFU president Harry Sinclair extended his sympathies and said: “It just emphasises the dangers with working on a farm. So much time is actually spent on your own.

“Probably a lot of people, farmers in their 70s, are still working away because they don’t know anything else.”

In other industries “a van load of people would arrive to tackle that kind of thing”, added Mr Sinclair.

“It just highlights the individualism and loneliness of the agricultural industry.”

Mr Emery was a regular churchgoer, bowls player and used to be a piper with the Ardbarron Pipe Band.

Prayers will be held at Mr Emery’s home, before mourners proceed to the church at 1.15pm.