Death crash driver 'was under stress'

A stressed civil engineer appeared oblivious as he drove his car into the path of an oncoming lorry, an inquest was told.

The head-on crash claimed the life of 47-yearold Gareth Davies on the A134 at Ingham, near Bury St Edmunds, on May 13 this year.

Mr Davies, who was travelling to work in Norwich from his home in Grove Avenue, Little Waldingfield, was killed instantly.

The inquest at Shire Hall, Bury St Edmunds, was told that Mr Davies had been given the option in February of either taking redundancy from his previous post of 23 years in Witham or switching to Norwich.

His widow Francesca Davies said that as a result he worked a six-day week, often being out of the house for more than 14 hours a day and still having to bring paperwork home with him.

It was not a job he enjoyed and found stressful, she said, but he did not want to take redundancy.

Mrs Davies said her husband appeared to be suffering from stress and was having difficulty sleeping.

At one stage during the weekend before his fatal accident she took away his car keys because she was concerned about the standard of his driving.

After initial resistance, he agreed to see a doctor who prescribed medication and suggested that he might be signed off sick but before an appointment could be arranged the accident happened.

In a statement to the inquest, PC Kevin Fuller said the collision had involved Mr Davies' Ford Mondeo car and an articulated tanker lorry which were travelling in opposite directions on a straight section of the A134.

Mr Davies appeared to have pulled out without warning from a line of traffic with the intention of overtaking but failed to heed the lorry which was travelling at more than 50mph towards him.

Car driver Lee Blackburn who witnessed the accident said: "There was no way he was going to complete the overtake. It was obvious that the lorry and the Mondeo were going to collide".

The driver of the lorry, who stood on his brake pedal in a bid to stop, told the inquest in a statement that when he saw the Mondeo bearing down on him he had thought "Oh hell, go back in".

The impact threw the Mondeo into the air and Mr Davies suffered severe multiple injuries. He was certified dead at the scene.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean said it was tragedy.

Dr Dean said: "He was a man who was under considerable stress. This seemed to have changed his personality. He seemed a different person to his wife."

"It is possible that he was more distractable because of the stress he was under," said the coroner.

At the time of Mr Davies' death, his widow Frances paid tribute to the man she described as her guardian angel.

She suffers from a debillitating eye condition which will eventually leave her blind and said life without her husband would be unbearable.

She said at the time: "He was my guardian angel, He looked after me and now he is gone."