Boy (8) dies in farm accident in Co Antrim

Father and son believed to have been overcome by poisonous slurry fumes

Robert Christie’s father, also Robert, is understood to be in a critical condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. Photograph: Pacemaker Belfast

Robert Christie’s father, also Robert, is understood to be in a critical condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. Photograph: Pacemaker Belfast

Mon, Jun 9, 2014, 01:00

The death of a boy in a farming

incident in north Antrim has triggered shock and sadness and prompted renewed warnings about the dangers of working with slurry.

Robert Christie (8) and his father (52), also called Robert, were overcome by slurry fumes on Saturday while working on a farm close to their own near Dunloy, Co Antrim, it is suspected.

The boy was airlifted to hospital but doctors were unable to resuscitate him. His father is understood to be in a critical condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

Poisonous fumes

While investigators from Northern Ireland’s Health and Safety Executive are trying to determine exactly what happened, it is believed

Mr Christie and his son were overcome by the fumes while helping out on a farm on Ballynaloob Road near Dunloy.

The incident may have happened, it is thought, as they were mixing slurry. The death has again highlighted the hazards of farm working and the danger of slurry.

In September 2012, Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence died along with his father Noel and brother Graham when they were overcome by slurry fumes at their farm near Hillsborough, Co Down.

At the inquest last year, the North’s senior coroner, John Leckey, was told by experts that one of the colourless gases emitted by slurry – hydrogen sulphide – had the same devastating effect as hydrogen cyanide.

Natural fertiliser

Slurry, a mixture of cow manure and water, is used as a fertiliser. It is gathered during winter when cattle are indoors. It must first be broken up and mixed in a slurry tank before being spread. This agitation of the mixture releases invisible gases that can overcome people in seconds.