An oil delivery driver was killed in a freak accident after falling into an underground diesel tank at a filling station in Co Meath two years ago, an inquest has heard.
Father of four Robbie Slye (64), from Clonshaugh, Co Dublin, died from injuries sustained during the incident at Tuite’s garage on Cavan Road, Oldcastle at around 12.30pm on April 6, 2021.
A sitting of Dublin District Coroner’s Court last week heard that Mr Slye, who worked for Capital Oil, was in the process of opening a manhole to access an underground diesel tank when he slumped headfirst into the chamber from a kneeling position.
He was rescued from the tank within a minute and rushed to Tallaght University Hospital by air but was pronounced dead later that night.
John Tuite, who owns the filling station, told the inquest that he called for assistance from other workers after noticing Mr Slye’s legs sticking out of the manhole.
They managed to pull the “limp and blue and unresponsive” delivery driver out of the hole, with Mr Tuite describing how a small amount of liquid was coming out of his mouth and nose.
Mr Tuite said Mr Slye began to breathe again after CPR was carried out, adding: “He was looking good and appeared to be doing well”.
Responding to questions from coroner Clare Keane, he said he had never experienced such an event over his many years operating the service station.
The witness said the underground diesel tank was always in use with deliveries made every seven to ten days.
Mr Slye regularly delivered fuel to the garage and had spent half an hour filling other tanks on the day of his death without any issues.
The inquest heard the underground chamber was about three feet deep with around a foot of water lying at the bottom topped wit
Stephen McGarry, an inspector with the Health and Safety Authority, investigated the circumstances of Mr Slye’s death and gave evidence at the inquest.
He said the underground tank was found to be of standard construction and design dating from 1937 and although it was undesirable to have water in the chamber accessing the diesel tank, it was almost impossible to avoid due to Ireland’s rainy weather.
Mr McGarry said he had never seen an incident like this in his two decades working with the HSA.
In response to concern expressed by members of Mr Slye’s family about the volume of diesel that might have been present in the chamber, the HSA inspector said he believed only a small amount of fuel covered the water inside.