Greenkeeper killed by falling branch

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim February 3, 2015 11:05

A popular head greenkeeper who was killed on the golf course he worked at during the extreme weather of last winter died when a 17 foot tree branch fell on his head, an inquest has found.

Dougie Johnstone


Douglas Johnstone, 56, was clearing up storm debris at Hinckley Golf Club at the time, when the branch hit him, causing “blunt force trauma” and bleeding on the brain.

Pathologist Dr Frances Hollingbury, speaking at the hearing at Loughborough Coronor’s Court, said the injury was consistent with a heavy branch falling on his head and he would have died almost immediately.

The jury recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Mr Johnstone, known as Dougie, who had previously been a greenkeeper at Wentworth, died in late December 2013.

He and two colleagues were working to clear branches which had fallen from a large poplar tree blown down in gales near the 14th hole.

Storm force winds of up to 53 miles per hour had battered the 18-hole course over the previous couple of days and caused a mature poplar to topple, with its top half hanging in nearby smaller trees.

Mr Johnstone decided to continue clearing the debris after his colleagues left for the day. One returned the following morning to find Mr Johnstone’s car had not been moved and the windscreen was frozen over, and the door of the maintenance shed was still open.

He then went to the fairway off the 14th green where they had all been working the previous afternoon and saw Mr Johnstone’s body lying on the ground.

A chainsaw with a broken casing was found nearby and there were blood stains on a large branch a few feet away from Mr Johnstone’s head.

The police and an ambulance were called and the 56-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.

The death shocked all at the golf club, where Mr Johnstone had worked since 2011.

At the time golf club member and former honorary secretary, Alan Millhouse, affectionately referred to him as a “burly Scotsman” and said: “He had big plans for developing the course – to make it the course to play on in Leicestershire. He worked his socks off. He was a really nice bloke.”


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim February 3, 2015 11:05
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