Family mourns their loss just days before Christmas

A boilermaker has been remembered as a “gentle and loving” person, after he was killed at work near Ararat.

The Burley family should be putting up tinsel and counting down the days until Christmas.

Instead, they’re faced with making funeral arrangements.

Avid fisherman John Burley, 55, was fatally injured at his Willaura workplace on December 15, in an incident with a telehandler that was being used to move a large steel door frame.

WorkSafe is investigating the circumstances of how the load fell and struck him at about 2pm last Thursday.

His older brother Jim Burley said the family had been stunned by his death.

“He was in the construction industry all of his life, he knew how to behave around machinery,” he said.

“He was one of the best boilermakers I have met in my life.”

Mr Burley had made a tree change in recent years to the Glenthompson area and was living with his wife Alana, with whom he shared two stepchildren.

He was the youngest of four brothers who grew up in Numurkah, near Shepparton, on a rural property with parents Murray and Mary Burley.

He is survived by his father Murray and brothers David, Jim and Ed.

“He was adored by his nephews, nieces and grandchildren,” Jim said.

Mr Burley had been working for a storage facility business and doing fabrication work at its Willaura location close to Ararat when he was killed.

“He was one of the most gentle and loving souls you could ever meet,” his brother Jim said.

“He would do anything for anyone and that’s probably what killed him. He would have said ‘yes’ to a request at work.”

His death at work marks at least the second telehandler related fatality in the Ararat area this year.

Farmer Damien Browne, 54, died while unloading a bulk seed bag into a semi-trailer on a farm in Crowlands, northeast of Ararat, on May 25.

WorkSafe believes a seed bag shifted as it was lifted with a telehandler and he pinned him against the top of the trailer.

John Burley loved animals and kept a dog named Ned, three cats, sheep, chooks and geese and was known for his generosity and giving away much of his fish catch.

He was also generous with his knowledge and had a deep love of coffee.

“He loved coffee and he taught me barista coffee making techniques,” Jim said.

“He had a good coffee machine and when we went camping we took the coffee machine and a generator with us.

“He never went anywhere without it.”

The brothers built their own 6m half cabin fishing boat and had planned to use it a lot more in retirement.

Now they face Christmas without him and are waiting to hear from the Coroner when his body will be released for the funeral.

Source: Herald Sun

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