Talented young badminton player died after head-on A47 crash, inquest told

PUBLISHED: 16:27 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:19 05 May 2020

Young badminton player Bradley Smith, who died following a crash on the A47 near Swaffham. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Young badminton player Bradley Smith, who died following a crash on the A47 near Swaffham. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Norfolk Constabulary

A car being driven by an 18-year-old talented sportsman was seen drifting into the oncoming lane before a fatal crash on the A47, an inquest has heard.

Bradley Smith, of Cecil Road in Norwich, was driving the car when it collided head-on with a van on the main road close to Swaffham on November 3 last year.

He was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with multiple injuries but died the next day of a cerebral brain haemorrhage.

The inquest into Mr Smith’s death was heard on Monday May 4 at Norfolk Coroner’s Court, where witness statements described seeing his car “regularly drifting” into the other lane.

Yvonne Blake, Area Coroner for Norfolk, read a statement from the van’s driver, Christopher Grice, who was driving towards Peterborough after 8pm on the night of the crash.

Mr Grice said he saw the headlights of an oncoming car which he thought was overtaking another vehicle and he reacted by slowing down.

The vehicle was “heading straight for him” and the next thing he remembered was it hitting him, the inquest heard.

Vidas Simkus was also driving in the area that night - which he described as clear with good visibility - towards King’s Lynn.

He saw a car driving in the other direction, but not in the Norwich-bound lane, “as if it was overtaking something but there was nothing to be overtook”, the inquest heard.

Mr Simkus then saw and heard the car and van collide in the Lynn-bound lane before he braked heavily and swerved into the grass verge.

Examination of Mr Smith’s phone later showed he had not been using the device at the time of the collision and that tiredness remained the “most likely explanation” for the crash, the inquest was told.

Ms Blake concluded that Mr Smith died as a result of a road traffic collision.

Speaking directly to his family, she added: “I am very sorry. I can’t think of anything worse. I have two daughters of my own. I’m sincerely sorry.”

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After Mr Smith’s death tributes described him as “one of Norfolk’s most talented young badminton players”.

An apprentice printer, he had been selected to represent his county at the sport from youth level before progressing into the senior set up in recent years.

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