INVESTIGATIONS are under way after the death of a seven-year-old at Beamish Museum.
Tragedy struck at the County Durham attraction when the boy fell from a steam traction engine before being hit by a trailer.
Emergency services rushed to the scene at about 3pm yesterday, but nothing could be done to save the child’s life.
It is believed the boy was not a visitor, but a volunteer at Beamish.
His dad had to be taken to the University Hospital of North Durham to be treated for shock.
Durham Constabulary and the Health and Safety Executive have launched a joint investigation into the tragedy, which happened in the events field area of the museum.
Inspector Steve Dowdle, of Durham Constabulary, said: “A seven-year-old boy had been involved in an incident with a steam traction engine and trailer and had been pronounced dead at the scene.
“He appeared to have suffered serious head injuries.
“The engine driver was taken to hospital suffering from shock and will be spoken to by police at an appropriate time and is being treated as a witness.
“The identities of those involved are not being released, but it is understood that neither of them were visitors to the museum.”
Durham county councillor Carl Marshall was visiting the museum with his family at the time of the accident.
“It was quite frantic for a few minutes,” he said.
“It is tragic.”
Visitors were asked to leave the attraction immediately as it closed for the day.
A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service said: “We got a call at 2.48pm for a young child who had been hit by a kind of steamroller-type vehicle, a traction engine.
“The crew attended and unfortunately it was a fatal incident.
“I believe the child was hit by a trailer at the back of the vehicle.
“There was nothing paramedics could have done at the scene.
“On this occasion we could not help the child.”
Beamish is one of the North East’s most popular attractions for young and old alike.
The museum aims to recreate a typical County Durham mining village from 1913 and even has a replica Sunderland Echo newspaper office.
The Health and Safety Executive have confirmed that they are investigating what happened alongside Durham Police.
Richard Evans, director of Beamish Museum, said: “We are naturally very shocked, and our thoughts are with the boy’s family at the time.
“We took an immediate decision to close the museum for the rest of the day as we support the joint investigation.”
Detectives are now hoping to piece together exactly what happened.
Durham Police are asking for witnesses to contact them by calling 101 and asking for the priority dispatch team.