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Questions remain over death of A38 van driver

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 09, 2014

28/10/13 RTA A38S
28/10/13 RTA A38S.RTA A38 southbound 1/2 mile north of Branston..

28/10/13 RTA A38S 28/10/13 RTA A38S.RTA A38 southbound 1/2 mile north of Branston..

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MYSTERY continues to surround the death of a man who drove into the back of a stationary lorry on the A38, an inquest has heard.

Christopher Parrish, known as Shaun, was killed instantly when his Ford Transit van hit the back of an articulated lorry near the Branston junction last October.

Investigations have since revealed that there was no obvious reason why the 42-year-old failed to avoid the lorry, which had broken down, leading coroner Andrew Haigh to conclude that his death occurred simply as a result of a ‘tragic road traffic collision’.

At an inquest into his death, which took place yesterday at Burton Magistrates’ Court, the driver of the lorry involved, Les Cooper, said: “I watched him coming in my mirror all the way. I was expecting him to pull out, but he just didn’t move.

“I didn’t see him brake or anything. It was like I wasn’t there. Everyone else moved out; why he didn’t, I just don’t know.”

Mr Cooper had pulled over after suffering a tyre blow-out, but much of the lorry remained in the outside lane.

Witnesses reported that other cars were moving over to avoid it, but the van driven by Mr Parrish, formerly of Rugeley, failed to do the same.

John Chalmers, who was on the dual carriageway at the time, said in a statement: “I saw a white Ford Transit van on my left, and in a split second it approached the rear of the lorry. I suspected it would move across at any time, but it just continued, and, to my horror it drove straight into the back of the lorry.”

Mr Chalmers was the first person to approach the van, after he stopped. He described extensive damage to the car and said the driver – Mr Parrish – was seriously injured.

“I touched his wrist and the right side of his neck and could not feel a pulse. I thought he was dead,” he added.

Another witness said they saw the van swerve just at the last minute.

The road was closed for some time while police carried out investigations. They ruled out any problems with the workings of the van, as well as possible health issues, the fact he was using a mobile phone, or that he was under the influence of drink or drugs.

PC Karl Kelsall, from the collision investigation unit, said: “I’m unable to provide a reason as to why the driver of the Ford may not have perceived the presence of the van possibly until the last moment, when it was too late.”

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