Schoolboy, nine, killed by tree during Storm Malik died in ‘freak accident’ while on pheasant hunt

A SCHOOLBOY killed by a falling tree while on a pheasant shoot during Storm Malik died in a “freak accident”, an inquest heard.

Tragic Jacob Gallon, nine, suffered “catastrophic” injuries when a beech tree toppled over at the 400-acre Heath House estate in Tean, Staffs.

Jacob Gallen was killed when a giant beech tree toppled on him

Jacob Gallen was killed when a giant beech tree toppled on himCredit: Facebook

The fatal accident occurred while Jacob was out on a pheasant hunt in Heath House estate in Tean, Staffs

The fatal accident occurred while Jacob was out on a pheasant hunt in Heath House estate in Tean, StaffsCredit: Alamy

An inquest heard how the youngster, who was known as Jake, was crushed when trying to pick up a hat belonging to another man, Barry Haydock, that had blown away.

His devastated dad told how just seconds before the horror, his son has been his normal, cheeky self “kicking me and calling me names”.

Recalling the events of January 29, Daniel Gallon said in a statement: “As we got near enough to the trees, Barry’s hat flew off behind him, about ten feet.

“Jake was laughing and he went back to pick up the hat. I turned to watch him go.

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“I heard a lot of shouting but because of the wind in the trees this was just coming across as noise.

“I looked up to the front of the house and sow someone pointing to my right. I looked up to my right and the tree was already down on top of me.

“I had just turned my shoulder away when it hit me on the back, knocking me the ground.

“Jake was about three feet to my left, slightly in front of me.

“I was knocked to the floor by the branches but I jumped straight up because I knew Jake was there.

“I was shouting for him but I couldn’t see him so I was hoping that he was far enough in front of us that it had missed him.

“At first I couldn’t see him but then I saw him.”

Mr Gallon told how he cradled his son body’s as other people rushed to help.

As an off-duty children’s nurse tried to revive Jacob, Mr Gallon admitted: “I had to go because it was too much for me.”

The young lad, a pupil at Gladstone Primary Academy, suffered catastrophic brain injuries and died at the scene.

Mr Haydock, 72, was also critically injured during the tragedy and suffered a suspected brain bleed.

No family members were present for Jacob’s inquest at Stoke-on-Trent Coroner’s Court.

The inquest heard that organisers had “no specific concern” over the windy weather and carried on as planned with the shoot, the third and last of the day in which 22 people were taking part.

Jacob, who had been to events at Heath House for more than a year, was described as an avid pheasant shooter who was “knowledgeable” and had “a good shot”.

Other witnesses told how they heard a “crack” and a “loud bang” as the tree “broke in half”. One described the horror as a “freak accident”.

Witness Tim Upton said in a statement: “Barry’s hat flew off and landed on the floor.

“Barry asked Jake to run and get his hat. I continued about 30 or 40 yards.

“I started to hear a really loud crack. I saw the tree to my right hand side start to fall. I ran forwards to miss the tree. When I turned around and I saw Jake and Barry underneath the tree.

“I totally froze because I could tell he was seriously injured.”

Tree expert Steve Massey said the beech tree had suffered hollowing and internal decay gradually over decades. He said its sudden toppling could not have been reasonably anticipated.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, assistant coroner Sukhdev Gardha said: “Having considered the evidence I conclude that Jacob Christopher Gallon died from a catastrophic brain injury caused by a fallen tree.”

In the wake of the tragedy, friends launched an online fundraiser with the blessing of Jacob’s parents.

In a tribute after the lad’s funeral, his loved ones said: “Today we said goodbye to a lovely young man and we had the honour to care for him and his family.

“Rest in eternal peace, Jacob.

“You will be deeply and sadly missed, but fondly remembered by all your loving family, friends, teachers and all from the shooting community.”

Posting an image of her son, mum Emma Baskeyfield said: “I love you my boy.”

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Floral tributes designed to look like a boxing glove, a pizza, an Xbox controller and a shotgun were carried into the service.

The owner of the vast estate, which is near Alton Towers theme park on the outskirts of Uttoxeter, has not commented.


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