Family of man who froze to death at windfarm awarded six-figure sum

Ronnie Alexander, 74, succumbed to hypothermia at the windfarm near New Cumnock in 2018.

Family of Kilmarnock man who froze to death at Afton windfarm secure six-figure sum in compensation Alexander family

The family of a man who froze to death at an Ayrshire windfarm has been awarded a six-figure sum in compensation.

Ronnie Alexander died at Afton windfarm in New Cumnock after being stranded during severe weather.

The 74-year-old, from Kilmarnock, succumbed to hypothermia after his cabin generator failed, leaving him without electricity or heat.

The tragedy occurred on January 21, 2018 – just months before Mr Alexander’s 50th wedding anniversary to wife Mary Alexander.

Glasgow-based employers CSM Facilities and wind farm bosses Farrans Construction, which is based in Belfast, were fined £860,000 at Ayr Sheriff Court in November 2021 over failings which led to the grandfather’s death.

The two firms admitted to health and safety breaches that contributed to the fatal accident.

The family’s compensation, an undisclosed six-figure sum, has been awarded in an out-of-court settlement one year after the companies were fined.

Mr Alexander’s death occurred hours after the Met Office had issued a yellow “be aware” warning for heavy snow.

Ronnie Alexander's daughter Laura and widow Mary.Digby Brown

The alarm was raised after he failed to return home from a 12-hour shift and he could not be reached by mobile phone.

Emergency services including Police Scotland’s Mountain Rescue Team conducted searches and, five hours later, found the grandfather alive but unresponsive in deep snow and nearly one mile from the cabin.

It is believed Mr Alexander left his cabin in the hope of reaching a second site to try and survive the night.

When he was found he was airlifted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but later died on the morning of January 22, with the cause of death being confirmed as hypothermia.

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

Mrs Alexander, 82, said she hopes the legal action will ensure construction bosses everywhere make conditions safer for workers.

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.

“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.”

His 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.”

The family’s compensation came following an employer’s liability legal action with Digby Brown Solicitors who sought civil damages 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.”

STV News have contacted Farrans Construction and CSM Facilities for comment.

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