THE funeral took place last Sunday of a Dromore farmer who died in a slurry tank accident at his Redhill Road farm the previous Thursday afternoon.
Mr William McMillan (43) is believed to have been moving an extraction pipe when he slipped and fell. He is the fourth person to lose his life in a farming accident in Northern Ireland this year.
The funeral service at First Dromore Presbyterian Church was attended by members of Mr McMillan’s immediate and extended family, along with his many friends and neigbours who are all struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
Mr McMillan’s son Ryan had frantically searched for his father when he returned to the farmyard after spreading slurry in a nearby field.
A brother of the deceased, Samuel McMillan, said the family believes William had been moving a pipe from one tank to another when he slipped and fell.
“When Ryan returned to the yard, he couldn’t find him anywhere and he searched for some time before he realised what had happened,” said Samuel. “He rang his father’s phone but the mobile was dead.
“He (William) was very conscientious and hard-working and would have been aware of safety. It was just a simple accident and he was gone.
“It has happened before, it has happened to William and it will probably happen again. I just don’t know what can be done to stop it.”
Samuel, who immediately flew over from England after receiving the devastating news, said the family was in a state of shock, particularly his father, John.
“My father is taking it very hard,” he added. “For over 40 years they were father and son on the farm, so he is in a very bad way.
“Unfortunately, in farming, life has to go on, animals still need to be looked after, but this will be very hard for us all to get over.”
Since the accident the entire family, particularly Mr McMillan’s wife Wendy, children Ryan and Lauren, parents John and Maureen and brother Samuel, have been comforted a strong network of support from neighbouring farmers.
“People have been very kind, coming to offer help,” said Samuel. “It is a very busy farm, with cattle and sheep and now it is just Ryan who is 21 and my father John, who is in his 70s, who are left to look after it.”
The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed it is investigating the accident. Meanwhile, DUP MLA William Irwin said his deepest sympathies were with the McMillan family.
“Obviously my thoughts and prayers are with the McMillan family,” he said. “This is a terrible tragedy for any family to deal with.
“As I have said recently, farms are dangerous environments and even with the best procedures in place, accidents can still occur.”