Family of man (29) who died while cutting trees, settles for six figure sum

Father of two Jonathan Gormley was clearing site of wind farm in Co Donegal

The family of a 29-year old man who died while clearing trees for construction of a wind farm has settled various legal actions for a substantial six figure sum.

The High Court’s Mr Justice Garett Simons on Monday approved the settlements of the actions including for nervous shock over the death of Jonathan Gormley.

A father of two young children, he died shortly before Christmas 2015 while working clearing trees at the site of Meenadreen Wind Farm in the Barnesmore area of Co Donegal.

An inquest two years ago into the death of Mr Gormley returned a verdict of death by misadventure.


The inquest heard Mr Gormley was found crouched down and a pine tree was across his left shoulder.

Medical evidence at the inquest said the cause of death was traumatic or mechanical asphyxia secondary to compression of the chest due to a fallen tree.

Mr Gormely’s partner Mairead Coughlin,Cluain Barron, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal along with Mr Gormley’s parents, Bridie and James Gormley, Boa Island Road, Belleek, Co Fermanagh had taken the case over the accident on December 21st 2015. They sued Viridian Energy Ltd trading as Energia, Viridian Renewables Development Ltd and Windgeneration Ireland Ltd all with offices at Mill House, Ashtowngate, Navan Road, Dublin which were the owners of the wind farm and Softwood Ireland Ltd of Ballymorris , Portarlington, Co Laois.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to have any or any appropriate employee to coordinate chainsaw work and to ensure no chainsaw worker was permitted to work alone. It was further claimed Mr Gormley had been allegedly allowed to attempt to clear a stand of trees manually using a chainsaw in circumstances where he allegedly should have been provided with appropriate mechanical plant and equipment.

It was further alleged there was an alleged failure to ensure all chainsaw and tree felling work was stopped where there were gale force gusts of up to 44 knots and Mr Gormley had been allegedly allowed to work on a day which was entirely unsuitable for the type of work involved and in circumstances where it was allegedly dangerous to perform chainsaw work in a stand of allegedly unstable, windblown and haphazard trees.

The claims were denied.

Michael Cush SC told the High Court the six figure sum was a "global settlement figure" over the unfortunate death of Mr Gormley. He said there had been protracted mediation talks as a number of actions had to be settled.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Garett Simons said it was a reasonable one.

The inquest in to Mr Gormley’s death heard he had not been seen for about two-and-a-half hours by the colleague who found him.

Joe Devaney told the inquest that Mr Gormley was a sawman who cut trees ahead of him and he would then clear them with a harvesting machine.

On the day of Mr Gormley’s death, Mr Devaney said he last saw him around 11.30am or 12pm on December 21st when they had a chat and a cigarette together and then Mr Gormely went to work on a hill.

It was a windy day and he said he rang Mr Gormley’s mobile phone four times between 2.17pm and 2.36pm but got no answer and got worried.

When he went to look for him her found Mr Gormley with his helmet on and on his knees with a tree down on his shoulder.

Mr Devaney said he could not find Mr Gormley’s pulse.

He said he was unable to lift the tree off him and was later given the go ahead to cut the tree. Attempts were made to revive Mr Gormley but he was pronounced dead at the scene.