An 85-year-old man was run over and killed by his own tractor southwest of Hastings after ignoring advice to fix an ignition system which could only be started by someone standing beside the vehicle, a Coroner has been told.
The advice was given about two years ago after the tractor ran over a younger man, who escaped serious harm only because it was on a patch of sawdust on softened wet ground, Eastern District Coroner Chris Devonport was told while investigating the death of Robert Cyril Fitz-William.
In his report, Mr Devonport said a visitor to a property on Maraekakaho Rd on the outskirts of Hastings about 2pm on December 14 last year found Mr Fitz-William dead beneath the turning right rear wheel of the Massey Ferguson tractor, which was otherwise motionless and stopped against a shed.
The wheel appeared to have been spinning for some time, according to the visitor in an interview with police, presented to the inquiry, which was held without the need for a formal hearing.
An inspection of the tractor found the manufacturer's start system had been disconnected some time previously, and another push-button starter switch fitted, probably only able to be operated by a person standing in front of the right rear wheel, and the tractor could be started while in gear.
A man who had known Mr Fitz-William for 25 years recalled the previous incident, which happened when the tractor was started in-gear by a worker standing in front of the right wheel.
The man said Mr Fitz-William assured him the switch would be relocated so it could only be operated by a person in the driver's seat.
Mr Devonport said it appeared no remedial action had been taken, and that Mr Fitz-William started the tractor while in front of the right rear wheel and was run over and crushed.