Inquest: Farmer who dug hole to rescue his dog was buried alive

Father-of-three farmer, 36, who dug large tunnel to try to rescue his trapped terrier from a hole was buried alive by mounds of falling earth in front of his horrified cousin moments after posing for a picture, inquest hears

  • Farmer Gary Davies, 36, died after trying to rescue his small trapped terrier 
  • The father-of-three had tried to dig into a 6ft hole into which the pet had fallen 
  • Dislodged earth fell on top of him and buried him alive in Rhayader, mid Wales
  • He was transferred to a Birmingham hospital where he later died on January 16

A farmer died in front of his horrified cousin as he was buried alive inside a hole in the ground which had been dug in a bid to rescue his dog, an inquest has been told.

Gary Davies, 36, had asked to be photographed inside the 6ft hole in fields in Rhayader, Mid Wales, just moments before the newly-dug earth around him collapsed, the inquest heard.

On Tuesday, the coroner’s court in Pontypridd heard Mr Davies was walking his small terrier in fields with his cousin and a group of friends around midday on January 13 this year when the dog ran down a bank and into small tunnel created by an animal.

Cousin Claire Burns said in a statement that Mr Davies’ dog appeared to be stuck ‘deep underground’, and so they called for help from local farmer Raymond Rees to bring his JCB to the scene.

Farmer Gary Davies, 36, (pictured with his wife Emma) died after being buried alive in Rhayader, Mid Wales, after trying to dig down into a hole to rescue his trapped terrier 

Mr Rees used the vehicle to enlarge the tunnel into a ‘big hole’ in an attempt to make it easier to reach the animal.

Ms Burns said: ‘Gary then jumped in to get the dog out. He was trying to reach down the tunnel for the dog and, as he did, this tunnel collapsed.’

Emergency services rescued him from the hole but he died in hospital five days later on January 16

She said Mr Davies had asked her to take a photo of him standing in the hole moments before he lay face down in it to try to reach for his dog.

She said the earth then collapsed on his head before the hole enclosed on top of him, leaving him stuck beneath the soil for around 20 minutes.

Farmer Mr Rees described the consistency of the soil as ‘sandy and easily dug out’, and said about ‘thee or four wheelbarrows-full’ collapsed onto Mr Davies.

‘I don’t think he saw it drop on top of him,’ Mr Rees said.

The group alerted emergency services and eventually managed to dig out an unconscious Mr Davies, who was given CPR by his friends before being airlifted by an ambulance crew to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Sergeant Vicky Lloyd, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said she and colleagues along with ambulance and fire crews attended the scene where they found a ‘large hole in ground around 6ft deep and was partially filled’.

The father-of-three (pictured with his wife Emma) died five days after the incident when his family agreed to withdraw treatment ‘due to futility’. They were allowed at his bedside when he died on January 16

She said while waiting for Mr Davies to be airlifted to hospital his small terrier appeared from the hole, and that the animal ‘appeared to have blood on its nose but no other injuries’.

Dr Ravi Hebballi, an intensive care unit consultant, said Mr Davies suffered a collapse of his right lung as well as a ‘severe’ hypoxic brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen.

With no neurological improvement over his three days in hospital, Mr Davies’ family agreed to withdraw treatment ‘due to futility’, and were allowed at his bedside when he died on January 16.

His wife, Emma Davies, told the court the couple were married in 2011 and lived with their three children in Temple Bar, St Harmon, Rhayader.

She said her husband was a ‘quiet and shy man’ who worked with his father and brother on their farm were they kept livestock including cattle and sheep.

She said he is ‘missed by all’.

Assistant coroner Rachel Knight recorded Mr Davies’ death as accident/misadventure.

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