June 22, 2022 11.30 am

Father-of-two crushed to death under car he was working on, inquest finds

The death was the result of an accident

A “car-mad” father-of-two was killed when a vehicle he was working under fell off jacks and crushed him.

James McKenna, 47, was in the rear garden of his home in Hospital Drove, Long Sutton. It’s believed the Ford Ka shifted sideways when he used force with a spanner.

An inquest hearing in Boston on Tuesday (June 21) was held almost exactly a year after his death on June 29, 2021.

Mr McKenna’s widow Sally and his parents, Barry and Rosslyn, heard senior coroner Paul Cooper formally conclude that the death was as the result of an accident.

In a written statement heard in court, Sally said her husband had gone out to start dismantling the car for scrap at 9.30am.

When he hadn’t come back into the house by 2.30pm to get ready to pick up their teenaged children from school she went to look for him.

“I saw James’s legs protruding from under the front of the Ka,” she said. “His legs didn’t move and James didn’t respond to me calling out.

“I went over and shook his knee and called out to him again.”

After returning from calling 999, Mrs McKenna knelt down beside the car on the soft and wet grass.

She could see her husband lying on his side and when he didn’t respond to a pinch of his fingers, she feared the worst.

Mr McKenna was pronounced dead at the scene, with a later post mortem finding that he had died from traumatic asphyxia.

Jordan Eagle, a friend of Mr McKenna’s, went to remove the car that night at Mrs McKenna’s request but found it tough to budge.

The axle stand under the middle of the car bent and embedded in the soft ground.

In a statement, he said he thought Mr McKenna had been using a spanner to help remove the catalytic convertor and the car had shifted when he used force, causing the axle stand to move and sink and the car to fall off its jacks.

The coroner said it had been a “tragic accident”, adding: “You can always look back in hindsight and say if he had been underneath the car on harder ground, he might still be here. But unfortunately you can’t turn back the clock.”

Mr McKenna had been a car valeter at Whaplode Drove dealership WH Brand before being on long-term sick.