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Lorry driver died after he fell asleep and hit truck on the A12, inquest hears

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A LORRY driver died when he smashed into a stationary HGV on the A12, an inquest heard. Andrew Mason, 50, from Hull, was flung from the cab of his Volvo lorry and sustained multiple traumatic injuries after the crash just beyond junction 17 (A130/Howe Green) on May 10 last year. Giving evidence, DC Steve Perrett told Chelmsford Coroner’s Court how a Renault lorry had stopped on the hard shoulder just beyond junction 17 at around 4.20pm.

“Evidence corroborates that the trailer of the Renault had suffered a puncture,” he said.

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“The vehicle stopped just beyond the slip road and the offside encroached into the traffic lane by about one metre and the driver switched the hazard lights on.

“The wisdom of the driver could be called into question as it may have been possible to continue driving to a point where the vehicle could stop completely out of the traffic lane.

“But the driver may not have been aware of the next layby, which are often quite far apart and continuing to drive a vehicle with a puncture has inherent risks.”

Evidence from the Renault lorry’s tacograph showed that it was parked for 18 minutes before the collision with the Volvo lorry driven by Mr Mason. He was driving a Dutch left-hand drive HGV for Dutch trucking company Visbeen Transport and was heading to Felixstowe. DC Perrett said Mr Mason was travelling at around 50mph and the Renault would have been visible to him for around 20 seconds before the collision.

“That makes it less likely that the accident was caused by a moment of inattention or distraction and circumstances tend to support the hypothesis that the most likely contributory factor was fatigue,” he added.

“There is no evidence that Mr Mason managed to apply his brake and witnesses suggest that no braking took place.

“Witnesses also describe the outside lane as being clear of traffic .

No evidence suggests Mr Mason was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

DC Perrett added that the use of a mobile phone had been ruled out during the police investigation and that there were no other contributory factors, with the weather fine and road surface in good repair.

“For reasons that cannot be established from evidence, Mr Mason did not manage to see the Renault and the nearside of the Volvo struck the rear side,” he said.

“Mr Mason was ejected from the cabin of his vehicle where he suffered injuries from which he sadly died.”

The Volvo lorry sustained substantial damage in the crash and the tacograph was too badly damaged to be examined. But using GPS, police were able to ascertain that Mr Mason had taken all his required rest periods. Mr Mason’s daughter Charlotte, who attended the inquest from Hull with other family members, told senior coroner for Essex, Caroline Beasley-Murray: “I think he must have just fallen asleep .

I think he must have done.”

Mrs Beasley-Murray recorded that Mr Mason died as a result of an accident.

Speaking to his family, she said: “This was a sudden, unexpected death.

“It was a traumatic accident and he clearly was much loved by you all and I would like to express sympathy to you on his loss.”

References

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