‘Life just stopped’ – Partner pays heartfelt tribute to man who was crushed by cargo containers at Portsmouth’s MMD shipping port

THE PARTNER of a man who was crushed to death between two cargo containers has described him as ‘kind man who was always smiling’.

Thursday, 24th January 2019, 5:39 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:58 pm
Mieczyslaw Siwak, better known as Mitch

Dorota Tomaszwska said she was ‘emotional’ the night she received a phone call to say her boyfriend Mieczyslaw Siwak, better known as Mitch, had died at his workplace, the MMD shipping port in Portsmouth, 

The 35-year-old said: ‘We had been together for four years and he was like a stepfather to my child.

‘We were starting a life together and had bought a place. Getting that phone call was very emotional and life just stopped.’

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Memorial to Mieczyslaw Siwak, known at Mitch, at MMD Shipping Services, Flathouse Quay, Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (240119-19)

An inquest in to the death of Mitch, originally from Poland but who was living in Bognor Regis, concluded yesterday at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court with jurors reaching an unanimous verdict of death by an accident which came about through a number of contributing factors.

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The top factors were Mitch not being stood in the safe walkway and that the truck lift driver was not carrying the container high enough and obscuring his view as well as other aspects including failure to use radios and lack of supervision by management.

Jurors also noted to Coroner Lincoln Brookes that the death could have been avoided had these factors not occurred but that the main reasons for the accident were the top two reasons.

Justin said: ‘I parked up and when I started walking over I just saw the top half of his head poking out.

‘I ran back to the machine, drove over and lifted the box off.  I just collapsed and picked up the phone.'

MMD Shipping Services general manager Steve Williams told the coroner about the improvements to safety procedures and other issues raised in the proceedings including the lack of control and supervision from management. 

He said: ‘There is a team talk with all the staff before anyone operates. There is now five [CCTV] cameras which are in full view in the manager’s office.’

Mr Williams said two people working night shifts had been dismissed in the last two months due to random CCTV spot checks.

He also told the coroner how the company has ordered new machinery which will only allow containers to be moved at a high height.

A memorial for father-of-one Mitch has been put up outside the firm’s gates.

Mr Williams said the firm had extended their condolences to the family and added: ‘[The memorial] is a permanent reminder to staff what happened that day and it will never leave our minds.’

Mike Sellers, managing director said: ‘Mitch Siwak was a popular, well-liked colleague and everyone at MMD has been affected by his death.

‘We are truly sorry that this tragic incident occurred and once again offer our condolences to Mitch’s family and we will always continue to offer support. We have a poignant memorial to Mitch, which I know is important to his family, and our staff too.

‘I would also like to thank staff for giving their statements and appreciate how difficult this has been.’

He added: ‘Safe working practices are in place for everyone’s protection and we will always make sure this is our main concern.’