Family awarded compensation after wind farm worker froze to death

His wife, Mary (on the right), said the last few years have &quot;been utterly hellish&quot;. <i>(Image: Digby Brown)</i>
His wife, Mary (on the right), said the last few years have "been utterly hellish". (Image: Digby Brown)

The family of a security guard who froze to death after he was stranded at a Scottish wind farm in severe weather have been given a six-figure compensation.

Ronnie Alexander, 74, was left without electricity or heat at a cabin near Afton wind farm near New Cumnock, Ayrshire during a yellow heavy snow warning on January 21, 2018.

A construction company and his employer were fined last year after admitting health and safety breaches. CSM Facilities and Farrans Construction will both pay half of the compensation pay out.

His wife, Mary, 82, said she hoped lessons would be learned by the construction industry after the tragic death.

She said: “The last few years have been utterly hellish.

“Everything about the loss of Ronnie and life without him has been a heartbreak.

“Now that all the court hearings are finished it would be wrong to say I’m ‘happy’ or ‘better’ – I’m only glad those parts are over and I can focus my full attention on my family.

“I just hope lessons can be learned from all this by those who operate in construction or remote locations.

“Keeping people safe should not be a hassle or an afterthought. It should be priority number one to avoid these very tragedies."

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The alarm was first raised after Mr Alexander failed to return home from a 12-hour shift.

He was found five hours later in the deep snow, nearly a mile from the cabin, by Police Scotland's Mountain Rescue team.

It is believed Mr Alexander had tried to reach a second site cabin after his generator failed on the night.

The worker also had no ways of contacting help.

The man was airlifted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but died later on the morning of January 22 – the cause of death was confirmed as hypothermia.

Mary added: "I’d finally just like to thank everyone who supported us but we now just wish to have our privacy respected as we focus on the future.”

The man's daughter, Laura Alexander, said at the time: “The only saving grace is rescuers found our dad and the hospital kept him alive long enough so he wasn’t alone at the very end and we got to say goodbye.”

Mr Alexander is survived by his wife, two daughters and three grandsons.

In November of last year, his employer CSM Facilities and wind farm parent company Farrans Construction admitted to health and safety failings at Ayr Sheriff Court.

The compensation to the family follows a civil action against the two firms.

Damian White, partner in Digby Brown’s Ayr office, said: “The heartbreak and trauma felt by the Alexander family is something very few could fully appreciate.

“Throughout the numerous investigations and processes that followed this tragic and avoidable incident they have continued to show and express dignity and strength.

“It should be a given that loved ones come home from their work which is why safety regulations exist – and that is why it is right the two companies were convicted and why it is right they recognise the loss felt by the Alexander family via civil damages.”