An inquest jury has found that the death of 20-year-old Oliver Floyd, who drowned after a weed spraying buggy toppled into a lake at Celtic Manor golf resort in Newport, was an accident.
Oliver’s father Nicholas Rawlings, an experienced groundsman, was driving the buggy at the time of the accident, when the vehicle lost traction on Celtic Manor Resort’s Twenty Ten course last March.
Both men had been working for Complete Weed Control South and Central Wales Ltd, and had received health and safety training on the vehicle.
Gwent Coroner’s Court heard the father and son worked together regularly and had been due to spray the resort’s Roman Road course that day, but were moved to the Twenty Ten course over concerns the buggy would leave tyre tracks.
The inquest heard the ground at the golf course was saturated because it had been raining and that Mr Rawlings had been “worried” about continuing to spray the course because of the conditions.
After the buggy began to slide into the lake, he told his son to “climb out behind me”.
Despite his father’s best efforts and attempts from other workers to help, they were unable to free Mr Floyd. His cause of death was as a result of “immersion”, when the “vehicle overturned trapping the deceased”, it was heard.
Wendy James, the assistant coroner for Gwent, said in her summary that the embankment was at an angle of 17.5 degrees, but that the vehicle should not have been driven on a slope more than 14 degrees.
Mrs James said there were no signs in the cab explaining the “slope tolerance”.
After the inquest, Mr Floyd’s family said they were planning on taking legal advice, and said they still had some concerns about what they had heard during the hearing.
In a statement Mr Floyd’s family said: “Our lives have been shattered with the loss of Oliver. He was the most loveable, cheekiest and kindest son, and he has left this huge great hole in our lives that will never ever be filled,”.
Celtic Manor Resort said “appropriate risk assessments were in place” and that it had now changed some of the rules about maintenance on its golf courses, including introducing no mowing zones.
Alan Abel, director of Complete Weed Control Central and South Wales Ltd, said: “Words cannot express how devastated we all are about the tragic accident.”
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