Grandfather, 78, killed in plunge at family BBQ

Old Hall Drive, in Ulverston. Picture: Google

Old Hall Drive, in Ulverston. Picture: Google

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A grandfather died after he fell through a garage skylight while picking fruit at a family barbecue, an inquest heard.

John Hepworth, 78, from North Shore, suffered major injuries to his upper body and head when he fell 10 to 15ft at his son Stephen’s home in Old Hall Drive, Ulverston, on July 25 last year.

The inquest at Barrow Town Hall heard Mr Hepworth, of Ashley Close, died five days later at Royal Preston Hospital.

Paul O’Donnell, Cumbria assistant coroner, recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

The inquest heard the father-of-three had been at a family gathering.

His son-in-law Christopher Simms said they had been sitting on the decking when Mr Hepworth had gone to the bottom of the garden to pick berries from the bushes.

The garage was “effectively underground” with the reinforced roof at the same level as the bushes.

They first knew something was wrong when they heard a loud crashing noise.

He had fallen to the garage floor through a domed skylight and was found on his back, unconscious.

His son Stephen said: “I can only assume that while he was picking the bushes, he stepped back to survey where to pick next and, in doing so, he tripped backwards on to the roof light.”

Mr Hepworth’s son David, a trained nurse, administered mouth-to-mouth and Stephen gave chest compressions.

He immediately started breathing again, but remained unconscious.

The family called 999 and he was flown to Royal Preston Hospital by air ambulance.

The inquest was told Mr Hepworth walked every day with his wife Dorothy. He was described as “fit and healthy” and extremely skilled with his hands.

His daughter Catherine was sat facing in her dad’s direction but did not see him fall. She said: “I remember thinking he was in his element – with his family on a sunny day picking fruit at the bottom of the garden.”

Mr Hepworth ran a family cafe in Blackpool for 17 years.

A statement read in court said: “Throughout the whole of his life, family have been the most important thing.