Pitman died in shaft plunge

Maltby Pit, Tickhill Road, Maltby.'Maltby Colliery.
Maltby Pit, Tickhill Road, Maltby.'Maltby Colliery.
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A SOUTH Yorkshire miner discovered dead at the bottom of a South Yorkshire mine shaft died from a fractured skull, a court heard.

Jackie Fisher, aged 52, died instantly after he fell more than 60ft down one of the shafts at Maltby Colliery in December 2009.

Mr Fisher, of Killington Grove, Edlington, was nearing the end of a 12-hour shift at the pit when he hit his head on a steel girder below the lift and suffered multiple injuries to his head and chest.

At an inquest into his death, pathologist John Lee told Mr Fisher’s family he would have died instantly because he’d suffered a severe fracture of the skull and even if there had been immediate medical aid available he could not have been saved.

The court heard Mr Fisher, a married man, was in good health at the time of the tragedy.

His son, Christopher, told the Rotherham inquest his father was “very health and safety conscious and never did owt stupid”.

His colleague Glen Hanson, who was going down the pit cage to take over from Mr Fisher told the court there were mechanical problems when the cage came to a stop at the bottom of the lift shaft.

He said when he got to the bottom Mr Fisher shouted that he couldn’t open the gate to the cage because of a defect on the hydraulic platform which connected the cage to the floor.

“He said I wouldn’t be able to get off in the conventional manner. He asked me if I’d get off the cage by going onto a beam and climbing down a ladder to get to the lower level,” said Mr Hanson.

“I’d never done that before but I had no difficulty doing so. I stepped onto the beam and descended the ladder. I never gave it a second thought, but with hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have.”

Mr Hanson went about his duties, assuming Mr Fisher would begoing to the surface, and shouted to him but there was no reply.

He then phoned the banksman at the top of the shaft who also said he had got no reply from Mr Fisher.

Mr Hanson said: “I went down the steps to a section of ladder used for maintenance at the side of the shaft and popped my head over and that’s when I saw Jackie at the bottom.”

Mr Hanson told the coroner lighting in the area was not very good because a succession of lightbulbs had not been replaced.

“They’d been out a considerable amount of time, you’re talking months,” he said. “It was something you put up with.”

Mr Hanson agreed with Adrian Waterman, the barrister representing the pit owners Hargreaves plc, that Mr Fisher was a “strong character” and what he said “carried a lot of weight”.

He said he did not appear to be rushing to get back to the surface but agreed that in a police interview a few days after the tragedy he had said Mr Fisher was rushing.

A jury of 11 men and women has been shown a DVD taken by the Mines Inspectorate of the colliery cage operation and the shaft area.

The inquest continues today.