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Grandfather Stephen Corke injured near Tunbridge Wells 'didn't have to die', his wife tells inquest

The widow of a man who died after he was struck by a falling pneumatic drill at a building site near Tunbridge Wells has told an inquest his death could have been prevented.

Stephen Corke, a grandfather of seven, died on August 17, 2018 just days after he tried to stop a drill used to break up concrete from falling before it hit him, an inquest at Suffolk Coroners Court heard today.

Gillian and Stephen Corke
Gillian and Stephen Corke

Gillian Corke, his wife of 11 years, said her husband was a fit and active 60-year-old but he rapidly and unexpectedly deteriorated after the incident at Flimwell, near the Kent and Sussex border.

“Steve has to have a voice in this and I feel he wasn’t looked after appropriately on site,” she told the jury inquest.

“I am angry as Steve didn’t have to die as there were points in the chain of events where his death could have been prevented.”

Mr Corke, a heating and plumbing engineer who lived on the building site when he was working and returned to his home in Suffolk at weekends, was injured at the Combi Construction site on August 14 when the drill fell on his foot.

The next day he went to the accident and emergency at Tunbridge Wells hospital and he was then discharged.

Stephen was a grandfather of seven
Stephen was a grandfather of seven

The full extent of his injuries were not known to his family until he was driven home by a colleague on August 16 and he appeared to be confused and struggling to get into his home.

Benjamin Corke, his son, told the inquest: “This was not the dad I knew. He was confused and disorientated.

“I could see plain as day he was in an awful, terrible state both mentally and physically and he should have been in hospital.”

Mrs Corke said that his leg appeared swollen and had what looked like big blood blisters on his leg, which Benjamin Corke described to the inquest as ‘sausage-like’.

Mr Corke was driven to West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, as Mrs Corke said she knew she could get there quicker than an ambulance.

Stephen with grandson Max Frost. Picture: Gillian Corke
Stephen with grandson Max Frost. Picture: Gillian Corke

The court was told when they arrived she rushed to get a wheelchair for him and Mr Corke was later taken to intensive care.

He died the next morning, the inquest was told.

The cause of death given by pathologists was sepsis as a result of an infection and soft tissue injury to his right lower limb.

The inquest, led by coroner Catherine Wood, continues.

For more information on how we can report on inquests, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells

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