Father-of-three Stuart Keeble died three years after his VW Caravelle collided with a tree at Thorpe Market

Norfolk Coroner's Court. Photo by Simon Finlay

Norfolk Coroner's Court. Photo by Simon Finlay - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A father-of-three left in a permanent vegetative state has died three years after sustaining a severe brain injury when his van collided with an oak tree, an inquest heard.

Stuart Keeble was not wearing a seat belt when his VW Caravelle left Thorpe Market Road in the direction of Roughton shortly after 8am on October 21, 2013, Norfolk Coroner's Court heard.

His wife Sarah said in a statement he had been due to collect their children from school that afternoon, and she believed he would never take his own life and 'leave his boys without a dad'.

'He was hard working, conscientious, and took a lot of pride in everything he did,' she said.

Members of the public who stopped after the collision battled to save the 39-year-old. Tommy Wicks helped paramedics reach him by using a crowbar to pry open the car door, according to police statements.

Josie Bennington was the first driver to stop at the scene and said conditions were 'damp, with a lot of fallen leaves'.

'I pulled alongside and saw a male driver slumped over the steering wheel,' she said. 'I tried to open the door but due to the damage sustained it was not possible. I went around the side of the vehicle and through the broken windscreen I steadied his head to keep his airways clear.'

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PC Alan O'Brien, first officer at the scene, said in a statement: 'The driver side of the cab had sustained a heavy impact and the steering wheel had been pushed into the dashboard.'

After the collision Mr Keeble was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital at Cambridge, but he never regained consciousness.

Dr Russell Phillips, consultant respiratory physician at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said Mr Keeble had multiple admissions with aspiration pneumonia from Oak Farm Clinic in Taverham, where he was receiving ongoing care. He said during an admission between May 1 and 18 2016 a 'do not attempt to resuscitate' notice was transferred to the hospital. 'Clearly a palliative approach was appropriate for this gentleman,' he said.

Mr Keeble died on October 29 2016, a week after his family agreed to stop antibiotics and hospital admissions. Senior coroner for Norfolk Jacqueline Lake recorded a conclusion of death due to road traffic collision.