Probe launched into church yard death

Last updated 09:40 09/06/2014
Log accident
MARTIN DE RUYTER/Fairfax Media

WorkSafe New Zealand staff investigators at the scene of a fatal accident which involved a felled log rolling on to a man doing community work at St Johns Worship Centre in Wakefield.

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Several investigations have been launched into the death of a Brightwater man crushed by a log at a church property in Wakefield.

Police today named him as Robert Charles Cave, 26.

Cave and a colleague had been doing maintenance work on the church property in Edward St on Saturday morning as part of a community work sentence when the accident happened about 10am.

He was taken by ambulance to Nelson Hospital where he died as a result of his injuries.

St John Ambulance shift manager Mike Casey said when the ambulance arrived on scene, the man was in pain but speaking. He deteriorated on the way to hospital.

He suffered internal injuries, and Casey believed this included some chest injuries.

Wakefield vicar Allan Wasley said the two men were cutting up a large gum tree which had come down about two months ago behind the St John's Worship Centre.

He said the tree was being cut up on a bank when a log came loose, and rolled towards the man. The man was standing below it and tried to outrun it but was struck.

Wasley said the accident was awful and the church was deeply saddened by it.

"It's a big shock.

"It's the last thing we want to see happen. My heart goes out to the man and his family."

Wasley said he was not out working with the men as he was unwell but went out to help when he was alerted about the accident.

He said the church regularly had community service workers on its property. The men were not part of a supervised crew.

Worksafe inspectors cordoned off the scene on Saturday afternoon while they conducted an investigation.

Corrections southern regional commissioner Ian Bourke said the death of a young man while undertaking community work was a real tragedy.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with this man's family and friends," he said.

Nelson Anglican Diocesan secretary Ian Pask said there were prayers offered to the family of the deceased in a service at the Wakefield church yesterday.

He said he expected there to be full investigation into all practices and best practice identified, "to see where it goes to from there".

However, he said community workers had been used by the church over the years for a variety of projects.

"If community groups don't use community workers what are you going to do with the people, put them in jail? The sentence only works because community groups are prepared to pitch in and help. I would image this would be no reason for us not to make use of community service workers."

Corrections would also hold its own internal investigation, and would not comment specifically on issues related to supervision.

Worksafe NZ and the Coroner have been advised and will be investigating.

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- The Nelson Mail

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