Driver had a heart attack before crashing into another car on A149 near King’s Lynn, inquest told
08:30 05 February 2013
A coroner paid tribute to the life of an engineer at an inquest into his death yesterday.
William Backshall, 84, died after the red Mercedes B-class saloon he was driving crashed into a black Mercedes ML class car close to the Knight’s Hill roundabout on November 3.
King’s Lynn County Court heard the Wereham resident veered onto the other the side of the road after suffering a heart attack.
Norfolk coroner William Armstrong recorded a verdict of death as a result of natural causes.
Earlier in the hearing, he said: “Bill was a clever man. An expert engineer and an artist, he always ensure everything he died was perfect.
“He was a remarkable man who had a remarkable life which included helping following the floods of 1953.”
He continued: “Bill had a long history of heart disease and his condition was deteriorating in the months leading up to his death.
“There is no suggestion, however, that he was prone to suffer cardiac arrests and his condition was being well managed by his doctors.”
He added: “There was no question he was in any hurry – speed was not a factor.”
Mr Backshall and his wife Betty had spent the day in Hunstanton and left the coastal resort at 8.30pm before the crash happened near Castle Rising just after 9pm.
A statement by Mrs Backshall was read out during yesterday’s hearing by the coroner.
She said her husband, a retired chartered civil engineer, had not complained about being or feeling ill during their day in Hunstanton.
The retired headteacher said the traffic on the A149 heading towards King’s Lynn was moving freely and that they weren’t in a hurry.
She added she remembered passing the turning for Sandringham and mentioning there was quite a bit of traffic about and the next thing she remembered was a “big bang”.
Hunstanton resident Billy Williams was driving the black Mercedes which Mr Backshall, who was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, crashed into.
Describing the build up to the crash, he said: “It was quite busy and I just got over the brow of the hill when I saw headlights enter my carriageway.
“My first reaction was that he was coming out to overtake but as I got closer he was right on my side of the road.
“I started to brake and tried to get out of his way but he swerved directly into my path and eventually hit the side of my car.”
Debra Melton was travelling behind Mr Williams having just finished a shift at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The Snettisham resident told the hearing she noticed Mr William’s car in front veer to the left and slow down.
She then said she saw the headlights of Mr Backshall’s car in the opposite direction enter their carriageway before the crash happened.
She added: “It all happened so quickly and came totally out of the blue.”
Danny Tuffs was driving behind Mr Backshall on the A149 having just enjoyed the fireworks display at Hunstanton with his partner.
“I was behind him for about a mile and I was going to overtake when he started to swerve from left to right,” Mr Tuffs said.
“He then swerved again to the left and then again to the right and that’s when he entered the other lane and smashed into the driver’s side of the other car.”
Dr Lilani Ranasinghe, a consultant pathologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, carried out the post mortem on Mr Backshall.
She told the inquest hearing yesterday the Wereham resident had long-standing heart problems and there was evidence of heart failure.
She added: “Most likely he suffered hart attack before veering to other side of road.”