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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

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Cumbrian man fell to his death trying to fix TV dish

A 46-year-old man died after falling 30ft when he tried to fix his satellite dish in strong winds.

Stephen Smith had been annoyed by the sound of a cable from the dish flapping about in strong winds, blurring his TV picture, when he decided to go up onto the flat roof of his home to fasten it down.

But the borrowed aluminium ladder he used wasn’t long enough and it had no grip on the slippery upvc fascia board that he had leaned it against, an inquest heard.

Mr Smith, from Cleator Moor, fell 30ft onto the concrete path surrounding his house at Keir Hardie Avenue, and suffered serious injuries.

He was left with multiple fractures of his ribs, his pelvis and an injury to his stomach, plus the trauma caused a cardiac arrest.

Doctors said that because of the extent of his injuries, an underlying heart condition and diabetes, chances of survival were very slim and nothing more could have been done for him at the scene. He died on the way to hospital.

Coroner David Roberts recorded a verdict of death by accident after hearing evidence from neighbour Eamonn Rush, a former roofer, who Mr Smith had asked to ‘foot the ladder’ and hold it steady while he did the job on the roof.

Mr Smith’s mother, Marjorie Chambers, of Dent Place, Cleator Moor, said her son was a quiet but determined character who, when he set his mind on doing something, would do it.

“We all told him not to go up there, but he wouldn’t be dissuaded,” she said.

“If I’d been there to stop him at the time, he would have just waited till I’d gone and then gone up.”

Mr Rush said Mr Smith had been up on the roof before, to clear a bird’s nest from a vent, but on the morning of December 9 last year, when he climbed the almost fully extended ladder, with a rucksack of tools on his back, the accident had happened. When he got to the top and tried to get onto the roof, the ladder slipped away to the right.

“He put his weight on the left to try and counter balance but the weight on his foot pushed the ladder away, it just went and he came straight down. I couldn’t hold it.”

Mr Rush said he had suggested to Mr Smith it was not a good idea to go up, but Mr Smith had insisted it would be okay.

“In hindsight I should have said more, but Stephen said he thought it would be all right,” said Mr Rush.

Mr Smith, who was not working at the time, had previously had been a groundsman for 10 years at St Mary’s Church, Cleator.

He was unmarried but had a long-term relationship with Christine Anderson and was ‘like a dad’ to her children.

His mother Marjorie paid tribute to her son saying: “Stephen was such a good person. He did things for people and gave money to animal welfare and some of his friends said he always remembered their children’s birthdays.”


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