Coroner rules 'accidental death' in case of fatal car crash
A mystery momentary distraction probably caused the deaths of a new bride and groom and two friends in what a coroner described as a "catastrophic" road crash on the A64 road last summer.
An inquest at Scarborough heard that newlyweds Paul Dockerty, 58, a purchaser, and his bride Susan, 57, of Dean House Court, Leeds, were being driven to Scarborough after the wedding in Leeds, by friend Derek Green, of Oak Road, Scarborough, a 63-year-old conservation officer with Scarborough Council, when the horror crash happened at the A64 landmark, Scampston Bridge near Rillington.
Mr Green's wife, Joy, an artist, also died in the accident which happened when their car went into the path of a heavy goods vehicle driven by Vladas Monius,27-year-old Lithuianian who said in a statement that he had driven HGV's extensively throughout Europe for several years.
He had been driving his Mercedes truck with a load of frozen food products from Scarborough to go to London,
North Yorkshire East Coroner, Michael Oakley, said Mr Monius was to have had an interpreter but attempts to contact him before the inquest had not been successful so the interpreter was stood down.
However, Mr Monius did attend, and the coroner ruled that the inquest should continue without an interpreter because his statement was non-controversial.
Mr Monius said he had transported cargoes to all parts of Europe and was living in England. When the accident happened in July last year, he had travelling the A64 route for the first time.
He said: "I saw a light vehicle travelling into my lorry about 10 metres in front of me. I pushed the brakes hard but I had no time left. I was definitely on my right side of the road."
He added that while he had been "completely shocked" he was physically unhurt.
Shahid Bari said he had been following Mr Green's Suzuki car towards Scarborough. "I didn't see the car cross the road - I only saw the collision."
The car landed on its roof, killing all four occupants instantly, the inquest heard.
He believed there was nothing the lorry driver could have done to avoid the crash.
Another motorist, Ian Costello, who was also following the Suzuki, said: "I know the bridge and the bend and it is quite dangerous. There was a huge explosion and I ran up to the (crashed) car."
Medical reports revealed that all four victims died from multiple injuries at the scene. Tests showed there was no evidence that Mr Green had taken drink or drugs.
Traffic Constable Terry Collins told the inquest that he had carried out a reconstruction and investigations into the crash. He said the car had suffered "catastrophic" damage.
All four victims had been wearing seat belts, said TC Collins.
Skid marks showed the lorry had been on its correct side of the road.
In his conclusion, he believed the car had drifted across the road into the path of the lorry.
Mr Oakley said he could not recall any previous fatal at the bridge, which overlooks lakes and gardens created by Capability Brown at Scampston Hall, at any time in more than 30 years as a coroner.
He added that signage at the bridge was "very clear".
Recording verdicts of accidental death on all four victims, Mr Oakley, said : "This was a day of celebration after the wedding of Mr and Mrs Dockerty in Leeds.
"They were being taken to Scarborough for a holiday by Mr and Mrs Green.
"The only piece of evidence is that there may have been "momentary inattention."
He added that Mr Monius had "done the only thing he could in braking hard to avoid the catastrophic collision" adding: "It is most unlikely that anyone could have survived notwithstanding they were all wearing seatbelts. It was a horrific collision on a bend which must have been known to Mr Green. The question is why it happened.
"It comes down to some form of distraction but we will never know what. It was a very happy day which became so horrendous."