Accidental verdict in car crash death

AN EXPERIENCED Scarborough chauffeur died after his car skidded into the path of a van, an inquest heard.

Jonathan Rhodes, 59, passed away last year after his black Dax Tojeiro collided with a Ford Transit van on the B1249 Staxton to Foxholes road in September.

An inquest revealed Mr Rhodes, of Scalby Mills Road, died from serious head and spinal injuries.

The inquest, held at Scarborough County Court, heard his vehicle spun at a sharp right angle to the road after coming over the brow of a hill near Ganton Hill Farm, before colliding side on with the white van.

The inquest heard Mr Rhodes, a driver for Scarborough-based firm Qdos Entertainment, was wearing a four point harness – akin to motor racing safety standards – at the time of the incident, but that the car had no headrests.

However, Dr Ian Richmond, a consultant pathologist at Hull Royal Infirmary, said he believed Mr Rhodes would still have received such significant injuries even if the safety features were fitted, owing to the severity of the impact and the fact it had occurred side-on.

Gordon Murray, the driver of the van, also spoke at the inquest, and said he had quickly tried to turn right and away from the oncoming car but said it was only around two to three car lengths away when it appeared over the hill.

Nigel Stephenson, a chauffeur colleague of Mr Rhodes, told the inquest he was driving the car after being asked to check its condition by its owner.

Mr Stephenson said he had agreed to follow Mr Rhodes –known as Jonty to family and friends – to a garage in West Lutton and was behind him when the incident happened.

He said: “Jonathan loved to drive and could get into a car and tell you straightaway what was wrong.

“He wanted to take the car to that garage because they specialised in that type of vehicle to make sure it was 100 per cent right.

“As he came up the other side of the hill I noticed the back end of the car twitch a little bit.

“It was like he had hit a pot hole but then it went violently to the right for no apparent reason.”

Traffic Constable David Foster, from North Yorkshire Police’s Collision Investigation Unit, examined the Tojeiro – a replica of a 1960s AC Cobra – and found nothing wrong with the car’s chassis and suspension.

He estimated Mr Rhodes was travelling around 30mph at the time of the accident – which occurred in overcast and damp conditions – and said his car may have clipped a white road marking.

He said this, combined with the vehicle’s high engine torque, could have forced it to spin so violently.

TC Foster confirmed a theory from Mr Oakley that Mr Rhodes, who suffered from high blood pressure, may have suffered a momentary dizzy spell caused by the illness was plausible.

However, he added tyre markings at the scene strongly suggested Mr Rhodes had continued to try and steer the vehicle in the split seconds before impact.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Oakley said it was conceivable Mr Rhodes could have suffered a medical-related problem before the collision but could not definitively confirm that as fact.

He added: “He was experienced in car driving and had driven the vehicle before.

“It is not clear why he has lost control, we know he suffered from high blood pressure and there is the possibility that he may have had some momentary dizzy spell.

“However, the road was wet, this car has very high torque and the evidence from the traffic constable is that he has been in control of the car when it has been crossing the road.”

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Rhodes’ family said: “We are relieved that the inquest is now over and we are satisfied with the verdict.”