‘Gentle giant’, 23, dies on building site days before birth of his first daughter


Harry Cheston, 23, had just completed building a nursery for his unborn daughter Williow when he was killed after the dumper truck he was driving tipped over

Harry Cheston
The truck Harry Cheston was driving tipped over, ended up upside down and despite best efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene, an inquest heard

A family have described their heartbreak following the death of a man described as a ‘gentle giant’ just days before the birth of his daughter.

Harry Cheston, from Rainworth in Nottinghamshire, had just finished building a nursery for his unborn daughter Williow when he was killed in a tragic building site accident.

The 23-year-old was working as a dump truck driver at a building site in Lincoln when he was killed after the truck he was driving tipped over and fell from an embankment, an inquest heard.

Harry died at the site on West Parade on January 9, 2020, just a matter of days before his partner Lauren gave birth to their daughter Willow on January 20.

His devastated partner Lauren spoke of her heartbreak that daughter Willow “has missed out on the opportunity of having an amazing dad,” Lincolnshire Live reports.

Partner Lauren spoke of her sadness that Harry would never get to meet his daughter
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Image:

Sam Gimson)

The inquest heard how the dumper truck being driven by Harry Cheston fell from an embankment on the site and ended up upside down, with Harry being trapped inside and dying from his injuries.

The inquest, which concluded today, heard evidence from Dr Frances Hollingbury, a pathologist, who concluded that Harry Cheston died from crush asphyxia.

Earlier this week the inquest jury at the Myles Cross Center in Lincoln heard how Harry was a “conscientious, hard-working young man.”

Marianne Johnson, the assistant coroner for Lincolnshire said: “Harry Cheston was 23 years old and was working for Melfort Construction as a dump truck driver.

Floral tributes left next to a building site at the corner of Rudgard Lane and West Parade, Lincoln after worker Harry Cheston died there
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Image:

Anna Draper/Lincolnshire Echo)

“Melfort Construction had been sub-contracted to the Lindum Group to carry out groundwork.

“On January 9 at around 10am, he drove his front-loaded dump truck onto a high level of the site and opened the barriers with the intention of unloading spoil.

“The truck tipped over, ended up upside down and despite best efforts, Harry Cheston was pronounced dead at the scene.”

The inquest heard how Harry’s job had been to load up his dumper truck with spoil and then tip it out at an agreed place on the building site.

Richard Heaven, who was working with Harry on the morning of his death, told the inquest that the tipping point was being accessed by a “pier” at the edge of the higher level on the building site, with the build-up of spoil meaning that this pier stretched out to a length of around 20 meters at one stage.

But on the morning of Mr Cheston’s death, when he was unloading spoil from excavation work being carried out by Mr Heaven, the inquest heard that the pier had reduced in length given that much of the spoil had been taken away in lorries.

Flowers left at the scene express sympathy for family and colleagues
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Image:

Anna Draper/Lincolnshire Echo)

Mr Heaven also told the inquest that by January 9, barriers had been installed along the edge of the higher level, with Mr Cheston asking if he could open these to unload spoil on the morning of his death.

Mr Cheston was told by Phillip Hayes to “open the barriers, tip the stuff, get off your dumper and close it again”, according to Mr Heaven.

Phillip Hayes worked for the Chesterfield-based company Melfort Construction, which also employed Harry and which had been sub-contracted to the Lindum Group to carry out groundwork on the Carruthers Court development.

Mr Hayes gave evidence to the inquest himself yesterday, February 15, confirming that he was the site supervisor on the day of Mr Cheston’s death.

He confirmed that he did allow Harry Cheston to open the barriers on the pier, given that the access road also leading to the tipping point was blocked off.

The entrance to the building site where Harry had been working for Melfort Construction as a dump truck driver.
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Image:

Anna Draper/Lincolnshire Echo)

But he said “in hindsight” that it would have been more sensitive to have not allowed Harry Cheston to tip at all, and that there should have been more safety measures on the site, such as a stop block at the end of the pier.

Marianne Johnson, the assistant coroner for Lincolnshire, said to the family following the jury’s verdict being delivered: “Harry died in such tragic circumstances and all I can do is extend my deepest condolences to you as a family.”

Speaking to reporters following the delivery of the verdict, Harry’s family paid tribute to him as an “amazing person” who would “do anything for anyone.”

One of his brothers, Sam Gimson, said: “He was a lovely, hard-working young lad and he was such a massive family person and very family-oriented.

“He loved watching his football club Notts County and watching the rugby because he wasn’t too much of a going out person, he enjoyed being at home with his family.”

Leisa Cheston, Harry’s mum, said: “He did love his family and he was putting all of his time into building a nursery for baby Willow and he’d literally just finished it.

“He didn’t have a nasty bone in his body and wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone and I always called him my gentle giant. He was just beautiful, all my children are beautiful.”

Speaking about her thoughts following the conclusion of the inquest, Harry’s partner Lauren added: “Harry was such an amazing person and he would have done anything for anyone.

“The inquest is over now but nothing is going to bring him back, and Willow has missed out on the opportunity of having an amazing dad.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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