A Sutton on Sea pensioner who died after his car crashed into the back of a stationary tipper lorry may have fallen asleep at the wheel, an inquest heard today (Thursday November 1).
It was also possible that Brian Douglas Davis, of Henshaw Avenue, fainted or was distracted by something prior to the collision on the A158 at Langworth on May 22 this year.
The inquest at Boston Coroner’s Court this morning was told that Mr Davis, 76, was alone in his Kia Ceed and travelling west towards Lincoln. It was about 3.30pm and visibility was good.
The empty Mercedes Arocs tipper lorry, belonging to Lincoln firm GS Hughes, had come to a stop behind a van waiting to turn right into an unnamed road leading to Sudbrooke Park. Just a second or two later the Kia car collided ‘fair and square’ with the back of the lorry.
In written evidence to the hearing, lorry driver Steven Hill said he had come slowly to a stop and his foot remained on the brake. Following the impact, he could see via the lorry’s rear view camera that a car had hit the rear.
Mr Hill ran to the car and found the doors locked.
He said: “(Mr Davis) had no seatbelt on and was unresponsive to my banging.”
The van driver, Mark Thomas, and passers-by including an off-duty student nurse, also tried to help. Someone smashed a rear window to gain access before paramedics arrived.
The court was told that there was no sign of heavy braking or swerving by Mr Davis, but the collision scene - about 200m after a level crossing - was not assessed by police collision investigation officers until about 48 hours later. That was because, initially, Mr Davis’s injuries were not thought to be too serious and the road was soon reopened.
However, he died two days later in Queen’s Medical Centre at Nottingham after a CT scan at Lincoln County Hospital revealed the extent of his internal injuries.
At hospital in Lincoln, Mr Davis told a police officer: “I can’t remember what happened.”
The following day, he was ‘insistent’ to his partner of ten years, Catherine Harper, that he had not passed out at the wheel.
Serious collision investigator PC Rachel Sheldon told the hearing: “Mr Davis failed to recognise and react to the traffic situation in front of him. This could have been because he had fallen asleep. It’s also possible that he had some sort of medical episode or was distracted by something in or out of the vehicle.”
She added: “What Mr Davis said that he ‘can’t remember’ (what happened) is a common comment by drivers who have fallen asleep. My only reservation in concluding that is the fact that he had just passed over a railway crossing 190 metres before. That is a short distance and it is a bumpy, uneven crossing.”
The causes of death were serious injuries consistent with a road traffic collision, ischemic heart disease, and early pneumonia.
Acting senior coroner Paul Smith said: “Had Mr Davis been wearing his seatbelt, the level of injury would have been less but it’s impossible to speculate whether he would have lived.”
He concluded that Mr Davis’s death was as a consequence of a road traffic collision.