East Midlands: Course manager was killed by falling branch

News & Tour

Douglas Johnstone of Hinckley died as he was clearing debris from a tree.

A course manager was killed by a falling branch as he attempted to clear debris from a tree damaged in a storm.

Douglas Johnston died on Friday December 28 beside the fairway on the 14th hole of Hinckley GC, which he managed.

Speaking at Loughborough Coroner’s Court, the 56-year-old’s colleague, David Owen, said that when he arrived at work the following day, he found Johnston’s body after growing concerned that course buildings were unlocked.

He added: “I went down to the 14th hole, where we’d been working the previous day and found him lying on the ground.

“I shouted to him ‘Dougie, Dougie’. But when I felt his hand and checked for his pulse I realised he had passed.”

Gale force winds of up to 85km/h had battered the golf course, causing a mature poplar tree to sever mid-trunk, with the top half ending up suspended in smaller trees nearby.

A blood-stained branch, measuring 17ft and weighing 15 stone was discovered a few feet away from Johnstone’s body, who was declared deceased by paramedics who attended the scene.

Owen recalled the final words he said to Johnstone: “When we left, he said he was going to work another hour until it got dark. I remember saying to him ‘make sure you don’t go under the tree – be careful’.”

Johnstone had joined the club in 2011, moving to Hinckley from his home in Hillingdon, Middlesex.

His death was recorded as accidental, and coroner Robert Chapman offered his condolences to members of his family.

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