Property developer Derek Mead, 70, who was also a local councillor, suffered a heart attack after the “tragic accident” on his farm on Sunday afternoon.
It is understood that Mr Mead was crushed by a JCB farm loader, a machine used to transport heavy materials. The dog is thought to have entered the cab and accidentally started the vehicle, according to a source close to the farmer’s family. It is believed that the animal may have accidentally knocked the gear stick forwards.
Police and paramedics were called to The Laurels in Hewish, near Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset at 2.18pm, Two response vehicles, an ambulance and an air ambulance attended and rescuers tried to save the dad-of-three, who was in cardiac arrest.
In a statement the Mead family, who have been farming in Somerset since the 1400s, described the death as a “terrible loss”.
They said: “It is with heavy hearts that we have to let you know that our father and grandfather, Derek Mead, was killed in a tragic accident on his farm.
“He was doing what he loved and has been doing since he was a young boy.
“The family thank you for all your kind messages during this time.”
Derek Mead owned Border Collies and terriers and was often seen pottering around the farm in his wellies and flat cap, a neighbour said.
Local councillor Mr Mead was the chairman of the Mead Group, which runs the biggest auction centre in southern England, and Puxton Park, a family attraction.
He made his fortune in dairy farming, breeding pigs, sheep and three dairy herds across 2,000 acres of land in Somerset with his son Alistair.
He was also involved in the construction sector and local politics and in 2013 was elected as an independent to North Somerset Council. Tributes have been paid to “a true gentleman” and “a great bloke”.
Conservative councillor Martin Williams said: “We may have been on opposite sides of the council chamber but we always had a good laugh afterwards.
“Every time you saw me you would shake my hand and tell me, ‘I’ll have you lot one day!’
“Legend, I’ll miss you loads mate. Sleep well.”.
North Somerset Council said: “The tragic death of Councillor Derek Mead has come as a terrible shock to us all.
“Councillor Mead had a range of business interests and was passionate about the area where he lived and worked.
“He had great energy and enthusiasm, always striving to make a difference in bringing growth to the local economy and never shrinking from challenging members and officers on behalf of his constituents.
“He was a larger than life character who will be greatly missed.”
Weston-super-Mare Town Council said: “He was admired for his sense of humour, and for always speaking his mind.
“He is a great loss to the town council and will be sadly missed. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”
Avon and Somerset Constabulary confirmed yesterday (Mon) that the investigation has been passed to the Health and Safety Executive.
Property developer Derek Mead
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