Driver, 82, had heart attack at wheel

An 82-year-old man who drove into oncoming traffic had a heart attack at the wheel, an inquest heard yesterday.

An 82-year-old man who drove into oncoming traffic had a heart attack at the wheel, an inquest heard yesterday.

David Coleman, a retired boatbuilder from Neatishead, died at the scene of the accident on the Wroxham to Stalham Road and his wife, Ellen, 80, died the next day at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The crash happened at about 11.30am on December 20 near the turning for Neatishead. It had been a misty morning.

Mr Coleman indicated he was turning right in his Hyundai Amica but turned into the path of a Mitsubishi Shogun coming in the opposite direction. Roland Gelinas, the Mitsubishi driver, could do nothing to prevent the accident, the inquest heard.

Mr Gelinas said he braked but there was no time to slow and the other car had left him "nowhere to go", with a line of traffic behind him.

The inquest heard from three drivers following Mr Coleman. June Ingram described how she saw him turning. "He didn't seem as if he was going to stop at all. I screamed at him to stop but of course he could not hear me."

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Another driver said he had felt cautious about driving behind Mr Coleman as he was travelling at about 20mph and then 30mph in a 60mph limit. The Mitsubishi was travelling at about 50mph.

John Desborough said the car made "a gradual measured turn as though the car had all the time in the world."

The force of the impact was such that the Hyundai tore the bumper off the Mitsubishi, then pivoted on its front wheels and landed facing back towards Norwich.

A post-mortem examination found that Mr Coleman had died of heart failure. He was known to have a long-standing heart condition.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said: "It is my judgment on the balance of probabilities that Mr Coleman had a heart attack which caused the car to veer on to the wrong side of the road."

He said there was nothing Mr Gelinas could have done. Mr Armstrong recorded a verdict of death from natural causes on Mr Coleman and accidental death on his wife.

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