Car crush widow’s plea

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A WIDOW has warned would-be mechanics to be careful after her husband was killed in a tragic accident when a car on which he was working collapsed on top of him.

Retired mechanic David Wilks, aged 70, died when he undid a suspension pipe underneath his Citroen C5 estate at his home on Greenwood Road, Darnall.

A Sheffield inquest heard his action led the car to ‘plummet straight down’, crushing Mr Wilks so he couldn’t breathe, after massive pressure was released from the pipe, which was part of a complex hydraulic suspension system on the vehicle.

Mr Wilks’ life could have been saved had he used stands to support the car, the coroner was told.

Speaking after the Thursday hearing, his wife Josie Wilks said: “He was just always having a go at messing with cars because that was his life.

“ I want to say just be careful and stick to all the safety precautions. If David had, he’d still be here today.”

The inquest heard Mr Wilks was last seen by his wife at around 4pm on Saturday, February 26. His last words to her were that he wanted to lower the suspension on his car before it went to the garage.

He was found trapped under the car after working on it in his drive, which was secluded and not overlooked, at 7.20pm. First aid was given but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Forensic collision investigator PC John Bashforth said most garages would ‘shy away from’ working on such complex suspension systems.

He told the inquest: “What’s happened here is that he’s totally undone one of the pipes, which has 2,000 lbs of pressure and as soon as that pressure goes there’s no suspension – it will plummet straight down.”

Although a jack was found at the scene, it appeared that had been used by somebody trying to free Mr Wilks, not to support the car while he was underneath.

PC Bashforth added: “The bottom line is that if he’d had stands underneath he would still be here.”

South Yorkshire coroner Christopher Dorries recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said he would also write to the car manufacturers Citroen to inform them of the facts of the death.

The cause of Mr Wilks’s death was given as positional asphyxia.