Construction worker 'crushed to death when nearly tonne of wet concrete poured on him'

UK: A "hugely experienced" construction worker was crushed to death when nearly a tonne of concrete collapsed on him in a tunnel, an inquest has heard.

Rene Tkacik, 44, was working on a Crossrail site in central London on March 7 last year when the wet concrete poured down on him.

He lay unconscious for 15 minutes before medical staff arrived, St Pancras Coroner's Court heard.

Mr Tkacik, of Hackney Road, east London, had been working in the UK to earn money to send home to his family in Slovakia so he could pay for his daughter Esther to go to university, a statement from his wife Renata said.

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The jury was shown a digital reconstruction of the 80ft (24m) deep tunnel in Fisher Street in Holborn where Mr Tkacic was killed - which was so deep it took an emergency team six minutes to reach him from ground level.

Investigating officer Cavin McGrath said: "The tunnel was being widened from the top.

"About a metre of concrete spraying would take place and the collapse was right underneath where it had just been sprayed.

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"It was just under a tonne of concrete that came down, which is the equivalent of a bag of building sand."

The statement read to the jury from Mr Tkacik's wife said he was a highly experienced construction worker, who did not drink and put his family first.

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It said: "His family was his first priority. He never went out with friends in the evening, he would just talk to me - he came here to raise funds to provide a university education for our daughter.

"He had worked as a concrete sprayer and was hugely experienced with that."

But despite his experience, his English was still "rudimentary" and his colleagues were occasionally said to be rude to him.

His wife, mother and three sisters travelled from Slovakia to attend the inquest.

The inquest was told that when the concrete fell on Mr Tkacik, the area had not finished being sprayed with concrete, and that work had stopped only so the machine could be refilled.

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When Mr McGrath was asked if there were any rope or chains in front of the exclusion zone at the time of the accident, he replied: "There was not."

No one is facing prosecution for the death, the officer confirmed.

A report from the medical attendant who was at the scene stated that Mr Tkacik had died from "blunt force trauma to the head and chest".

Getty A worker walks past a digger in the partially completed Crossrail rail tunnel that will become Bond Street station

An engineer who worked with Mr Tkacik at the Fisher Street site told the inquest he would often ask his friends for help to understand the daily briefing.

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Sergio Roman, who communicated with Mr Tkacik in Spanish, said: "Rene's English was very bad. Sometimes he communicated with us because we are Spanish. His Spanish was perfect.

"Sometimes he asked us about the things he didn't understand."

When the coroner asked Mr Roman if he thought Mr Tkacik understood the briefings he said: "I don't think so. A translator was never used for our briefings."

Dylan Jones, a nozzleman sprayer working at the Fisher Street site, confirmed that all briefings and health and safety inductions were conducted in English.

Mr Jones, who said he never worked directly with Mr Tkacik, said staying back while the concrete was drying was something "every nozzleman should know".

It is believed that Mr Tkacik was not standing in the safe area behind the spraying machine's arm when he was killed.

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