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Freak lightning bolt kills Haslingden dad
12:00pm Saturday 14th April 2012 in Rossendale
A FATHER-OF-ONE has died after being struck by a ‘freak’ bolt of lightning while drinking a cup of tea on a building site, police said.
Bricklayer Justin Feber from Haslingden was taking a break on the Bovis Homes Development site where he was working, when his colleagues witnessed a flash of lightning and a loud bang, despite no warning of a storm.
The 41-year-old, who was not touching anything metallic and was standing with both feet on the ground, instantly collapsed at the site in Wychwood Village, Weston, near Crewe shortly before 1.30pm on Wednesday.
Health and safety experts said in the UK five people on average are killed by lightning each year, making the odds of of such a fatal strike one in 10,000,000.
Colleagues of Mr Feber, known as ‘Feebs’ to his friends, who were sub-contractors at the site by Chorley based Matthews and Leigh Civil Engineering Ltd, rushed to his aid and tried to administer first aid.
But despite their best efforts and further medical attention from paramedics, the son of former Rossendale United Chairman Jack Feber, died a short time later at Leighton Hospital, in Crewe.
A second man was also taken to hospital suffering from the effects of shock.
Andy Leigh, managing director of Matthews and Leigh Civil Engineering Ltd said: “All staff at Matthews and Leigh have been profoundly upset and shocked by this tragic event and we send our sincere condolences to Justin’s family and friends.
“Justin was well liked, highly professional and held in high regard by all those who worked with him. Our thoughts are with all who knew him at this very sad time.”
The Health and Safety Executive, the body responsible for employee safety in the work place said they had been made aware of the incident and that they would not be launching an investigation.
A HSE spokesman said: “This incident is not something the Health and Safety Executive would normally investigate because it was the result of a freak natural occurrence.”
A spokesman from Bovis Homes said: “Everyone at Bovis Homes is deeply saddened by this tragic incident and we extend our sincere sympathies to this man's family and friends.
“Our thoughts are with them and with his colleagues who were with him on site and responded immediately to the incident. They have obviously been deeply affected by this and we will look to support them in any way we can.”
Mr Feber’s mother Carol of Woodside Crescent, Newchurch was to upset to speak.
Jason Mahrous, neighbour and friend of Mr Feber, who lived in Langwood Court, Haslingden said: “Justin was my next door neighbour.
“All I can say is that he was a great man who loved life and loved his daughter Libby very much.
“He was a happy man and he will be missed by everyone.”
Friend Karen King, from Rawtenstall said: “Justin was a great person who lived life to the full. He was also a great dad, who loved his daughter.
“He mainly used to drink in Waterfoot and Rawtenstall and he will be remembered for always having a smile on his face.
“I was only dancing with him a month or so a go at a 50th birthday party.
“He was a really popular guy who had loads of friends.”
A spokesman from Cheshire Police said: “At 1.28pm on Wednesday 11 April 2012 emergency services were called to Abbey Park Way, Wychwood Village, Crewe following the report of a man being struck by lightning.
“A 41-year-old man from Haslingden in Rossendale who had been working on a building site was treated by paramedics at the scene.
“Sadly, he died a short time later at Leighton Hospital.
“A second man suffering from shock was also taken to Leighton.
“Police attended the scene and confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances.
“A file will now be prepared for the coroner.”
Tributes for the former Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School pupil have also been flooding in to social networking site Facebook.
Eugene Bolam posted: “Didn’t sleep much last night, another life taken way to early R.I.P. Justin.”
Others organised a night out in memory of the former Sunday football league player who used to play for the Boot and Shoe in Waterfoot.
Close friend Simon Dowsing said: “Don't know how to start this, so here goes..tomorrow night I'm going out for a drink for Justin, ‘Feebs’ if anyone would like to join me?
“We will be sending one good mucker away in style. We have all lost a good mate here and he would be happy if this happened. r.I.p juzzy xxxxxxx”
As well as his parents Jack and Carol, Justin leaves brother Jason and nine-year-old daughter Libby.
The Cheshire Coroner is expected to open an inquest on Monday.