December 11 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Norfolk’s coroner has issued a stark warning about the dangers of driving while tired after concluding a 43-year-old man died in a crash on the A11 because he had not had enough sleep.
An inquest hearing into the death of Scott Willimott, from Halvergate, near Acle, was held at Norwich Coroner’s Court this morning.
Mr Willimott crashed his car near the A11 junction for the B1077 at Attleborough in the early hours of Saturday, April 13, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Norfolk’s coroner, William Armstrong, concluded Mr Willimott had died as a result of a road traffic collision and heard how the security guard had worked a night shift, and then only slept for four and a half hours on Friday, April 12.
Mr Armstrong said tiredness had been a “major contributing factor” and encouraged other drivers to learn lessons from Mr Willimott’s death.
“I would be failing my duty if I did not say this tragedy should come as a warning that tiredness does and can kill,” Mr Armstrong said. “There is evidence of tiredness being a contributing factor in a number of collisions and fatal collisions.
“Drivers must realise that if they are tired, not to continue driving. You cannot fight tiredness by concentrating harder. You must stop, take drink, take a break and get some air.
“If this tragedy serves to remind drivers of that more forcefully, then it will have been of some use.”
During the hearing, it was said that on the Friday afternoon Mr Willimott had driven down to Uxbridge, on the western outskirts of London, having finished a night shift in Salhouse earlier that day.
He drove to meet a woman he had become friendly with through phone calls. That woman, Mushiya Mpelumbe, attended Mr Willimott’s inquest and explained they had met for the first time that day, meeting at around 7.30pm and going to the cinema and for a drink together.
Ms Mpelumbe said Mr Wllmott had left Uxbridge around 11.30pm, saying: “I thought he was okay, there was nothing for me to worry about because he asked me to come to Norwich in May.”
Michael Burridge, a Royal Mail lorry driver who had been travelling from Coventry to Norwich, said he had been overtaken by Mr Willimott’s yellow Peugeot as he pulled away from the Breckland Lodge roundabout.
He then saw Mr Willimott’s car leave the road and was the first person on the scene, soon joined by a passing police car.
Mr Armstrong added there was no way of knowing if a hazard, such as an animal, in the road had caused Mr Willimott to veer through fencing and into a tree, or if being tired had caused him to overreact to a potential hazard.
He said: “It has to be concluded that tiredness was a major contributing factor. There was no evidence of braking or indication, just simply of veering off the road, so the evidence is that it is likely that this was caused by tiredness.”