Barnham crash victim had been feeling tired

A farmer who died after his car veered into the opposite lane had been drinking alcohol and also seemed to be suffering from tiredness, an inquest has heard.

Ryszard Kumela, 51, of York Way, Thetford, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on the A134 at Barnham on November 22 last year.

Yesterday's (Thursday) inquest into his death heard how the Citroen Picasso he was driving collided with a Hyundai driven by Michael Hall and a Volkswagen Golf driven by Eileen Lee.

Mr Kumela, who was born in Poland, died from injuries sustained in the crash. He was pronounced dead at 5.29pm.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean said: 'It does appear, as we heard, his vehicle crossed initially partly into the opposing lane and then went completely into that lane, causing these two impacts of which we heard.'

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The inquest heard details from the statement of Mr Kumela's colleague, Grcegorz Mroz, who worked with him at the farm between Thetford and Bury.

Mr Mroz said nothing seemed out of the ordinary that day, but Mr Kumela had said he was tired.

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He noticed that his colleague had been drinking from a flask previously and presumed that this was tea or coffee.

After 2pm he left Mr Kumela to continue the livestock feed and this was the last time he saw him. At 3.45pm he returned to the main yard, but could not locate him so rang him on the phone. He got no response.

Pc Andrew Fossey, a road traffic collision investigator, believed Mr Kumela had failed to maintain control of his vehicle, departing from his lane on a number of occasions and then partly crossed into the Bury-bound lane.

It crashed with the Hyundai, and then his vehicle continued into the Bury lane where it collided fully with the Golf. Both Mr Hall and Mrs Lee sustained injuries.

The inquest heard that Mr Kumela, who was married to Malgorza, had a raised alcohol level and there also seemed to be some tiredness.

In a statement, Mr Kumela's daughter Oliwia said her father was used to driving on the left-hand side of the road and was also comfortable driving at anti-social hours.

The inquest heard that he would drive through the night to and from Poland without any problem.

His family found it hard to believe that after all these years driving in different countries he was killed such a short distance from work and home.

Dr Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death. He said: 'This does emphasise the dangers of driving when tired and with an increased alcohol level, but this clearly was a traumatic road traffic collision.'

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