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Investigation after canal volunteer dies in lock wall collapse

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is investigating the death of a man who was fatally injured while carrying out volunteer work on a Wiltshire canal.

Peter Kibitzer was working on excavations at Upper Pewsham Lock near Chippenham when a lock collapsed on top of him.

Emergency services airlifted the 63-year-old to Great Western Hospital, in Swindon, but he tragically died of his injuries.

Wiltshire Police said: “We are investigating the sudden death of a 63-year-old man from Chippenham which occurred at the Canal Path, Pewsham at approximately 12.30pm on August 24.

“Next of kin have been informed and are being supported by the police. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

An investigation is now underway to ascertain how the incident could have happened and a post-mortem examination is now due to take place.

Lock wall collapsed

Mr Konitzer was helping with preservation work when the wall crumbled on top of him.

After the Wilts and Berks Canal was abandoned nearly a century ago the locks had fallen into a state of disrepair.

A dedicated team of volunteers on behalf of the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust– including Mr Konitzer – have spent several years undertaking the restoration work to return the river to its former glory.

The Trust says its work to restore and develop the canal route is the “largest and most complex waterway restoration project now taking place in the UK”.

Canal Trust will work with HSE and police

In a statement, the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust said: “The trust would like to send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of our volunteer.

“We would also like to thank the emergency services who responded so rapidly and gave such care to our volunteers at the scene.”

The Trust says it is co-operating fully with the investigations carried out by the HSE and the police to establish the background to this tragedy and any lessons it needs to learn from it.

“The Trust is also providing support for the other volunteers who were on site and for family and friends,” it added.

Source: Health and Safety Practitioner