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Popular young farmer died after trying to jump onto moving tractor, inquiry hears

Caroline Rennie at a young farmer sports weekend in Oldmeldrum in 2018.
Caroline Rennie was killed in a farming accident in April 2021.

A young Turriff farmer died after attempting to jump onto a tractor before falling and being killed, a fatal accident inquiry has been told.

Caroline Rennie was tragically killed in the accident while working in a field near Turriff on April 3 last year.

And now an inquiry into her death at Banff Sheriff Court has heard her death was caused by “multiple injuries following an incident on a farm”.

At the start of proceedings today, Sheriff Robert Frazer shared his condolences with Miss Rennie’s parents and her elder sister, who were present in court.

Promising to deal with the inquiry as “sensitively as possible” he told them: “I thank you for your attendance today. It shows admiral strength and courage that you are here.”

No blame sought

The court then heard neither the Crown nor the lawyer acting on behalf of the Rennie family were seeking any finding in terms of any precautions or defects that may have led to Miss Rennie’s death.

Fiscal depute Muhammad Sadiq said: “Caroline Rennie attempted to climb onto a moving tractor without making sure the driver had seen her. In making that manoeuvre she fell and was crushed by the power harrow.”

Miss Rennie’s father Andrew was an eye-witness to the accident.

Caroline Rennie was killed in a farming incident. Photo by Police Scotland

Family showed ‘stoicism and dignity’

Lawyer Mark Donaldson, acting for the Rennie family, said they had asked him to express their thanks to the police, Health and Safety Executive and fiscal service for their sensitivity and the rate at which the investigation had taken place.

Mr Donaldson added: “I wish to express my condolences and also my appreciation to them for the engagement and assistance shown to me and for the stoicism and dignity they have maintained at all times.”

Caroline couldn’t be saved

Emergency services rushed to the field next to the A947 Banff to Aberdeen road on April 3, last year, about three miles south of Turriff. But Miss Rennie, who was working  with her father at the time, couldn’t be saved.

A joint investigation between the Health and Safety Executive and Police Scotland was launched immediately after Miss Rennie’s death. 

At the same time, multiple tributes were paid to Miss Rennie, second daughter of Andrew and Annette Rennie, of Gask Farm, following her death.

‘Enthusiastic and much-loved’

Her family described her as “so full of life, full of fun and much loved” and said she was  “a great friend to everyone who knew her”.

Miss Rennie was also described as a “passionate” and “dynamic” farmer as well as an “active, popular and much-loved” member of Turriff Young Farmers’ Club.

Further kind words were also shared by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ then national chairwoman, Gemma Bruce.

She said: “The tragic passing of our Turriff JAC member has shaken our community to the core. Caroline was a committed, fun-loving member and a friend to so many.

“We hope that Caroline’s family and young farmer friends can find a little peace and comfort during this difficult time by thinking of the fond memories shared.”

Agricultural leaders said the tragic incident served as a reminder of the “enormous challenges when working with machinery and livestock”.

Caroline had ‘bright future ahead’

Lorna Paterson, north-east regional manager for the National Farmers Union Scotland, added at the time: “Caroline’s passion for our industry was second to none.

“She had such a bright future ahead and was a real entrepreneurial and dynamic female within the farming locality.

“This horrendously tragic situation is the cruellest of the cruel and everyone in farming is shocked.

“It is no secret that our agricultural industry is deemed to be a very dangerous sector, and our farmers and farm-workers face enormous challenges when working with machinery and livestock.”

Why was inquiry needed?

Fatal accident inquiries are mandatory under the Inquiries into Fatal
Accidents and Sudden Deaths (Scotland) Act 2016, when someone dies at work.

Rather than appointing blame, they aim to examine whether any steps might be taken to prevent similar circumstances from happening again in the future.

Sheriff Robert Frazer said he would file his report into Miss Rennie’s death in a timely manner and hoped to have it completed by early June.

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