Environment Agency worker who died after crane toppled into icy Fen drain is identified

AN ENVIRONMENT Agency worker who died after his crane toppled into an icy Fen drain has today been identified.

Simon Wenn, 43, of Main Road, Three Holes, near Wisbech, died after his 28-tonne crane fell into the Old Bedford River at Mepal last Wednesday morning.

Firefighters tried in vain to reach the man, who was trapped in the submerged cab, but he was declared dead around three hours after the crane fell into the icy water.

Mr Wenn leaves his wife Beryl and three children. He had worked for the Environment Agency and its predecessors since 1992.

Geoff Brighty, area manager for the Environment Agency, said: “I and everyone at the Environment Agency are extremely upset by this tragic incident. All our thoughts and sympathies are with our colleague’s friends and family.”

Tributes were paid in Parliament to the crane driver who was dredging a frozen section of the Old Bedford River, when the machine toppled down the bank.

At Commons question time last Thursday, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman told MPs: “I’m sorry to have to tell the House of some sad news that a member of the Environment Agency staff was tragically killed yesterday in an accident.

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“I hope the whole House will join me in extending our condolences to his family at this very difficult time.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Labour and by the Tory chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Anne McIntosh.

Health and Safety Executive officials have launched an investigation to the accident, which happened near the A142 at Mepal.

Julian Fountain, incident commander for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “All agencies had worked extremely closely together to make every effort to fully release the man from the water as quickly as possible.

“However, due to the location of the crane, the freezing weather conditions and the fact that the man was trapped, this could not happen in time. This is an extremely tragic incident. Our thoughts go out to the man’s family.”

The Environment Agency has been dredging the shallow Old Bedford - a navigable man-made river which flows from Cambridgeshire to Salter’s Lode, near Downham Market - for the past couple of weeks to manage flood risk in the area.

But both the river and its banks have become frozen during the recent cold snap.

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