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Inquiry finds Kelso Laddie died after becoming trapped by quad bike underwater

Ian Whellans, 2016 Kelso Laddie Credit: ITV Border

A Borders farmer drowned after the quad bike he was riding toppled over on a steep bank and trapped him in a burn, a fatal accident inquiry has been told.

Twenty six year old Ian Whellans - who was the Kelso Laddie in 2016 - was attending to pedigree sheep and cattle alone on a farm near Hume on November 11, 2018.

The inquiry, held at Edinburgh Sheriff Court by telelink because of lockdown measures, heard that after he was noticed missing and the alarm raised, farm manager Bruce Renwick tried to save him.

Depute fiscal Rebecca Swansey said:“Mr Whellans was underneath the quad bike and his face was submerged under the water.

“Mr Renwick pulled him onto the bank but he was showing no signs of life.”

The alarm was raised after the quad bike and trailer driven by Mr Whellans was spotted missing from its usual parking place at the JB Renwick & Son farm at Legars near Kelso.

Skid marks were discovered at the top of the slope - while the quad was found to have no mechanical fault, its tyres were caked in mud and were slightly over-inflated at the front.

Sheriff Chris Dickson said: “What the Health and Safety Executive seems to be saying is that because of the steepness of the slope taken with the angle he tackled the slope, the quad bike became unstable and rolled down the steep slope into the burn.”

Edinburgh Sherriff Court Credit: ScotGovt

The inquiry heard that Mr Whellans would have died quickly after the quad bike pinned his chest in the half-a-foot deep water.

It is thought he may have been knocked unconscious when the quad bike landed on him and he’d be unaware what thereafter happened. Mr Whellans was a trained quad bike rider but was not wearing a helmet at the time.

The Crown’s investigation concluded Mr Whellans death was down to human error rather than any defective working practice.

The inquiry heard the reason why Mr Whellans was driving the quad on the slope remains a mystery.

A determination is expected in two weeks.