Farmer dies in slurry tank tragedy

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A LOCAL MLA has offered her condolences to the family of a man killed in a slurry tank accident last week.

43-year-old William McMillan died last Thursday afternoon after an accident at his farm on Redhill Road between Magheralin and Dromore. His funeral took place on Sunday.

Local Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson, who is a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee at Stormont, said: “I send my deepest condolences to the McMillan family and the wider family circle.

“I was extremely saddened to hear of this tragic accident. Incidents such as this stand as a stark reminder of just how dangerous farming can be.”

Mr McMillan’s son Ryan had frantically searched for his father when he returned to the farmyard after spreading slurry in a nearby field.

A brother of the deceased, Samuel McMillan, said the family believes William had been moving a pipe from one tank to another when he slipped and fell.

“When Ryan returned to the yard, he couldn’t find him anywhere and he searched for some time before he realised what had happened,” said Samuel.

“He rang his father’s phone but the mobile was dead.

“He (William) was very conscientious and hard-working and would have been aware of safety. It was just a simple accident and he was gone.

“It has happened before, it has happened to William and it will probably happen again. I just don’t know what can be done to stop it.”

Samuel, who immediately flew over from England after receiving the devastating news, said the family was in a state of shock, particularly his father, John.

“My father is taking it very hard,” he added. “For over 40 years they were father and son on the farm, so he is in a very bad way.

“Unfortunately, in farming, life has to go on, animals still need to be looked after, but this will be very hard for us all to get over.”

Since the accident the entire family, particularly Mr McMillan’s wife Wendy, children Ryan and Lauren, parents John and Maureen and brother Samuel, have been comforted by a strong network of support from neighbouring farmers.

“People have been very kind, coming to offer help,” said Samuel. “It is a very busy farm, with cattle and sheep and now it is just Ryan who is 21 and my father John, who is in his 70s, who are left to look after it.”

The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed it is investigating the accident.

Mr McMillan is the fourth person to lose his life in a farming accident in Northern Ireland this year.