Inquiry starts into death of teen Basilio Brazao

Earlsburn windfarm on the Fintry Hills. Pic: Ian Rutherford
Earlsburn windfarm on the Fintry Hills. Pic: Ian Rutherford
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A WORKER who held the hand of a dying teenager who had fallen 100 feet down a turbine shaft during construction of a Scottish windfarm has told a fatal accident inquiry he had thought about it constantly for seven years.

Michael Bonner said he rushed to the scene after Basilio Brazao, 19, plunged down the shaft at Earlsburn wind farm near Fintry, Stirlingshire.

He said he went into the shaft and saw the teenager lying near a ladder at the bottom, with blood coming from his head.

Mr Brazao, of Dunbar, East Lothian, was wearing a safety harness but no helmet when the accident happened.

Mr Brazao’s uncle, who also worked at the site, was giving his injured nephew mouth to mouth.

Mr Bonner, 31, told the inquiry at Stirling Sheriff Court: “He was doing first aid. He was trying to make him comfortable.”

He said he could see injuries to the teenager’s leg and head.

He said the teenager was wearing “rigger boots” and had one on and one off. He was also wearing a harness that he thought was clipped on to a ladder in the turbine.

Depute fiscal Gavin Callaghan asked: “Was Mr Brazao conscious?”

Mr Bonner replied: “I would say so yes. He was still alive at the time.”

The court heard a statement that Mr Bonner had given to Health and Safety Executive investyigators shortly after the incident on May 22, 2007.

He said: “When I first went into the turbine I could see the guy had a harness on but I’m not sure if he had a hard hat.

“He didn’t have a glove on his left hand because I was holding that while I was trying to help him, but he did have boots on.

“I don’t recall his harness being clipped on to anything.”

Questioned by Mr Callaghan about the whether the harness was clipped on or not, he said: “During the last seven years I’ve been thinking constantly about the boy. Trying to visualise him. Today maybe I’m thinking he was and he wasn’t, it’s been a bit of time.”

Mr Bonner, a plant operator, said that along with his colleague Neil Paterson he called 999 and asked for an air ambulance which arrived along with paramedics.

The inquiry heard when paramedics arrived they found the injured teenager had no pulse and was not breathing. A defibrilator showed he was flatlining.

They tried to resuscitate him but stopped after 15 minutes and he was later declared dead.

Mr Paterson, 39, said he had been giving Mr Bonner a lift back to the turbine site from a work compound at the bottom of the hill when a van approached them at speed.

When the van drew near he saw that the the driver had “blood on his hands” and told them there had been an accident.

The two men headed up the hill to see if they could help and to get a mobile signal to call 999.

Mr Paterson said: “I climbed the steps to the turbine and the guy was lying down at the bottom platform. I think his leg was sort of caught on the ladder. I can’t remember exactly but I saw his boot sort of jammed on the ladder.”

He added: “I’m sure he had a harness on and one of his boots was on the platform.”

He said he could not be “100 per cent sure” if the harness was still attached to a safety system.

He said a man outside the turbine, whom he believed was a relative, was screaming and repeating a name and another colleague was being sick.

The inquiry heard that the cause of Mr Brazao’s death was multiple injuries and blunt force trauma, as a result of falling from height at an industrial turbine at work.

Mr Brazao, known as “Basil”, was a Brazilian citizen, but lived in Dunbar.

At the time of the accident he was working for Turbine Erection Cabling Services, subcontracted by turbine manufacturer Nordex UK.

Nordex was employed by a subsidiary of Falck Renewables which was developing the 15 turbine windfarm.

In 2012 Nordex was fined £26,000 at Stirling Sheriff Court after admitting health and safety breaches but the prosecution said Mr Brasao’s death was not caused by or connected to the breaches.