Inquest on miner opens

SORELY MISSED: Kellingley miner Gerry Gibson who died at the mine in a roof fall.
SORELY MISSED: Kellingley miner Gerry Gibson who died at the mine in a roof fall.

AN inquest into the death of a Sherburn-in-Elmet miner was told it was likely to take up to six months to find out the truth as to why roof supports had failed at Kellingley.

Married father of two Gerry Gibson, 49, died on September 27 after a roof fall at the pit, where two other workers have died in the past three years.

A colleague, Phil Sheldon, was also trapped but he was pulled out with only minor injuries.

Kellingley, is the largest remaining deep mine in Yorkshire.

Mine safety inspector John Whyatt told Monday’s opening hearing of the inquest at Selby Magistrates Court that it was clear that there had been a failure of the support system.

“We have taken into our possession a number of roof bolts which were part of the support system,” he said.

“It is quite important for us to understand the mode of failure. It has gone to our laboratory in Buxton.

“To do a proper analysis will take some time.

“I would expect it to be six months before a final report, based on my previous experience.”

He added: “One of our focuses is not just to understand what happened in this case.

“The really important part is to make sure measures are put in place to stop it ever happending again and that will take some time.”

Opening and adjourning the inquest until a later date, Coroner Rob Turnbull said the cause of the death was mechanical asphyxia due to the collapse of the mine roof.

Mr Gibson was from Shotts, in Lanarkshire, but had lived at Sherburn in Elmet, near Selby, since 1989.

His family, wife Brenda, and sons, Sean and Andrew, said this week that he remained a proud Scotsman and supporter of Celtic FC.

“We are all truly devastated by Gerry’s sudden and tragic death,” they added.

“He was regarded as a significant character in both communities and the sympathy and support we have received from both north and south of the border, are testament to that.”

They also paid tribute to the effort which successfully rescued Mr Sheldon, adding: “We would like to pay tribute to everyone involved in the attempts to rescue Gerry – all his work colleagues, Kellingley rescue team, the air ambulance team, Yorkshire Ambulance and all other medics who were on site.

“Their tireless efforts were not in vain, resulting in the successful rescue of the other trapped miner, and everyone involved should take pride and comfort from that outcome.

“That’s what Gerry would have wanted.”

“He will be sorely missed.”

A Requiem Mass will take place tomorrow at Selby Abbey at 12.30pm and then at All Saints Church Cemetery in Sherburn.

Donations will be collected for a worthy cause.