Engineer died when tram crushed him in tragic accident, inquest rules

George Manser
George Manser
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  • George Manser, 64, was restoring a vintage tram at his Sarisbury Green workshop
  • Tributes paid to the ‘kind and caring’ man
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AN ENGINEER was crushed to death by a nine tonne vintage tram while he tried transforming it into a mobile cafe to sell cream teas, an inquest heard today.

George Manser, 64, used two five tonne ratchet jacks to lift the huge vehicle up so he could replace the tyres so it would pass an MOT test.

He was always happy, and enjoyed his work in engineering and his hobby working on vintage vehicles.

George Manser’s brother William

But his decision to carry out the work on a seven and a half degree slope resulted in the tram toppling on him, which pinned him against a ladder.

Mr Manser could not breathe after being crushed up against the steel steps and a close friend discover him ‘motionless’ at his workshop.

An inquest at the Guildhall, in Portsmouth, heard he wanted to use the tram – which he bought seven years previously - to sell cream teas at motorcycle and car shows.

But on May 3 this year, Mr Manser, of Sarisbury Green, decided to work on the tram at the bottom of his drive and the vehicle ended up falling over.

Mr Manser ran and owned George Manser Precision Engineering at his home, which specialises in restoring ancient cars and other vehicles.

DC Lucia Davies, of Hampshire Constabulary, told the inquest: ‘George had an interest in restoring vintage vehicles, which he worked on at his home.

‘He had a full-size replica tram which was being restored by Mr Manser to be used as a mobile cafe.

‘The tram used to be kept on a flat part of the drive, but when we were called it was on a slope, next to the building.

‘He told a friend he was planning on changing the tyres for an upcoming MOT test.

‘At 5.40pm, his friend Billy Bowers arrived at the workshop and discovered Mr Manser trapped between the wall and the property.

‘He was motionless and unresponsive and taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth.

‘The outcome was that the tram had fallen and it caused him to become trapped.

‘He was confirmed dead at the scene by the ambulance service.’

Close friend Brian Brown told the inquest that Mr Manser had been working on the tram ever since he bought it seven years ago.

He said: ‘George was working on the tram ever since he bought it.

‘He wanted to restore it and he was turning it into a mobile vehicle to sell cream teas at motorcycle and car shows.

‘And because of that it needed to have an MOT.

‘It was the first time he was working on the tram on the slope. I think it was a spur of the moment decision to work on the tram that day.’

Friend Billy Bowers went over to the workshop and discovered Mr Manser trapped between the ladder and the tram, the inquest heard.

He said: ‘I called in to see George and I looked to my right and the tram had fallen and had pinned him against a ladder.

‘I called the police and ambulance and George sadly passed away.

‘I think he was dead when I found him, I patted him on the back and there was no movement from him.’

Charles Simmons-Jacobs, a forensic engineer, investigated Mr Manser’s death on behalf of Hampshire Constabulary.

He told the inquest: ‘George was using two five-tonne ratchet jacks to raise the tram to remove the wheels in preparation for an MOT test when the tram fell from the jacks on to him.

‘He had lifted the tram up 610mm and it seemed like the ratchets were working in their capacity.

‘In my opinion, Mr Manser was in the process of jacking the tram up and had not yet put any support under the vehicle prior to working on it.

‘He may have been unaware and may not have taken into account the slope.’

Karen Harrold, assistant deputy coroner for Portsmouth and south east Hampshire, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

She said: ‘It is clear that George Manser was using two ratchet jacks to raise a tram to change the tyres.

‘Sadly, the tram fell off and trapped him between the tram and the steel steps.’

The inquest heard he died as a result of traumatic asphyxia, which caused chest compression due to the entrapment between the tram and the steel steps.

His brother William said after the inquest: ‘My brother George was a very kind and caring man.

‘He was always happy, and enjoyed his work in engineering and his hobby working on vintage vehicles.

‘There were always people stopping by his workshop to see him.

‘George’s death was an event I could have never envisaged.

‘It was a tragic accident where George was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

‘We as a family are very saddened by his death, but hope that it will remind people to check their equipment and work space.’