Warning following inquest into motorcycle rider’s “horrific collision” on A47 Acle Straight

06:30 23 January 2013

Norfolk coroner, William Armstrong, at the Coroner

Norfolk coroner, William Armstrong, at the Coroner's Court. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant 2012

Drivers and motorcycle riders have been warned to take care on the roads by Norfolk’s coroner as he spoke of a “horrific collision” which led to the death of a 52-year-old man on the A47 Acle Straight.

"It is right that I highlight this tragedy to serve as a warning that when driving you should take account of driving conditions, as the fog clearly played a part in this case."

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong.

An inquest into the death of Alan Southgate, of Nursery Close, Acle, was concluded yesterday among tearful acounts of the crash from two lorry drivers caught up in the tragedy.

One eyewitness, lorry driver Michael Rose, who was following behind the vehicles involved, told how Mr Southgate had been thrown “up in the air as if he had come out of a cannon”.

Mr Southgate, an operations department practitioner at the James Paget University Hospital (JPH), died following the crash shortly before 7am on Tuesday, June 26 last year.

Coroner William Armstrong explained Mr Southgate was declared dead at the scene and that a post mortem examination had found he had died as a result of “massive soft tissue and bone damage”.

It was said there was heavy fog when Mr Southgate overtook Mr Rose’s Skania lorry and a blue Audi A3, heading in the Great Yarmouth direction, before he attempted to overtake an MW Whites Volvo axel skip loader HGV, driven by Kevin Dawson.

Mr Southgate, riding a black Kawasaki motorcycle, was then seen to attempt to take evasive action when he had overtaken around two-thirds of the lorry, when he realised a DAF Argos lorry being driven by Stuart Jackson was heading straight for him.

Mr Jackson mounted the grass verge to try to avoid the motorbike but this was unsuccessful and Mr Southgate was knocked under the wheels of Mr Dawson’s Volvo lorry, leading to his immediate death.

The coroner emphasised that neither Mr Jackson or Mr Dawson “could have prevented what happened” and praised Mr Jackson’s attempts to try to mount the verge.

PC Wendy Biddel, a Norfolk Constabulary forensic investigation officer, said the crash happened around 150m north-west of the Tunstall bridge.

Dr Robert Hudson, the driver of the blue Audi A3, who works as an anaesthetist at the JPH, knew Mr Southgate through their work at the hospital.

He had been travelling from his Norwich home and had overtaken the Skania lorry, followed by Mr Southgate, before moving over to allow Mr Southgate to overtake him as well.

This was greeted with a thankful wave but just minutes later Mr Hudson was checking his colleague for his pulse and concluded he had died.

The coroner said: “There was thick fog at the time, of varying degrees of intensity, but the Acle Straight, as is often the case, was particularly thick.

“I am very mindful of the trauma suffered and which continues to be suffered by those involved and I have to say I know Alan’s family accept this tragedy came about as a result of Alan making an unwise and ill-considered decision to overtake this vehicle, and there is no question of speed or recklessness being a factor.”

Mr Armstrong added: “It is right that I highlight this tragedy to serve as a warning that when driving you should take account of driving conditions, as the fog clearly played a part in this case.”

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