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Death of worker killed by methanol tank explosion deemed accidental

By Jamie Brassington | Darlaston | News | Published: | Last Updated:

Father-of-six Raymond Wyman died aged 34 after a methanol tank exploded in Darlaston.

Raymond Wyman, described as the 'best father', was aged 34 when he died

A worker who was killed when a methanol tank exploded died as a result of an accident, an inquest jury found.

The jury concluded Raymond Wyman, of Pensnett, died from a "complication of multiple injuries" following the explosion at KTC Edibles, Darlaston, on October 31, 2016.

The tank exploded while Mr Wyman, who was working at a height, used an oxypropane torch to cut open the tank. The torch is believed to have ignited the methanol.

Colleagues found Mr Wyman, a father of six, lying on the ground an estimated 22 yards away from the four-foot tank, which had toppled over.

The explosion happened at KTC Edibles

Mr Wyman suffered serious injuries and was rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital where he died eight days later, aged 34.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided no criminal charges would be brought in the case.

'One of a kind'

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Paying tribute to Mr Wyman, his sister Charlene Fradgley, 45, said: "There is a great big hole that will never be filled again. Ray was one of a kind. He was the best brother anybody could wish for.

"He was the best father to his kids, the best partner. Ray has always been there for me. He has been my rock through all the difficult times in my life.

"He has been there for dad and mom and the rest of us. And now we haven't got him and it is not fair. He should still be here."

His father Raymond Wyman senior, 65, an Army veteran, said: "I can't grieve because over the last few years I have lost that many family members. Raymond passing away this time, I was just getting over a bout of post traumatic stress disorder.

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"Then it started all back again, it has caused me anxiety and stress. PTSD came from serving in Northern Ireland, I served four tours.

"Ray was my helper, part-time carer. Now he is gone, I have had to bring someone else in. He has left behind six children. I miss him."

'Clear' instructions

NKD Machinery, his employers, told the inquest Mr Wyman was given "clear" instructions not to work on the tank.

KTC Edibles had recently taken over the Heath Road factory premises and employed NKD Machinery to clear industrial plant from the site.

Before the explosion that day, Mr Wyman had worked on dismantling a nitrogen tank.

KTC Edibles is off Heath Road in Darlaston

Nitesh Hari, project manager for NKD Machinery, said the firm had been asked to remove the methanol tank by KTC Edibles. He said KTC Edible’s managing director Sukhjinder Singh Khera had reassured him the methanol tank was empty

But Mr Hari only told Mr Wyman to work on the nitrogen tank, as the methanol tank would be too costly to dismantle due to transport costs and the price of purging the highly-flammable gas.

Raj Mehmi, a colleague of Mr Wyman's, was among the first on the scene after the explosion.

He told the inquest: "I remember hearing a big bang outside. This was something that was untoward - it got all of our attention.

"As soon as I heard it, I ran outside. Ray was on the floor .

"I phoned the ambulance straight away. He was about 10 to 20 metres away from the tank. It was a very distressing scene for me."

KTC Edibles

The explosion generated a huge emergency response, with an estimated 20 vehicles from the police, fire and ambulance services arriving on the scene.

Devan Hari, 26, younger brother of Nitesh, who was a supervisor that morning, told the inquest "clear" instructions were given not to touch the methanol tank, as "specialist people" were needed for the task.

Mr Mehmi was questioned at the inquest over his police statement by Jodie Kemberley, a barrister representing Mr Wyman's family.

The inquest heard that Mr Mehmi said in his statement Mr Wyman and Kishan Hari, Nitesh's father, had been working outside on a "second tank".

Miss Kemberley asked: "Do you agree that is how your statement reads, that work would start on the methanol tank?"

In response, Mr Mehmi said: "No that was to continue work on the nitrogen tank. At the time, I think I was in shock still. There was one tank that we were clearly told to work on."

During the emergency response, Mr Mehmi was filmed telling a paramedic after the explosion: "We opened all the valves - there was no pressure in it."

Miss Kemberley questioned this piece of evidence, saying: "You were clearly being asked by the paramedic about the methanol tank, weren't you."

Mr Mehmi replied that he was referring to"the whole scene and what was going on".

Since the accident, NKD Machinery has stopped operating, despite the firm still being registered with Companies House.

Coroner Zafar Siddique said: "This was an absolutely tragic death of a young man who doesn't just leave behind extended family members, but children and a partner too.

"I offer my deepest condolences."

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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