A MAN with mental health problems drove 1,500 miles in four days before a fatal collision with a lorry.
Lewis Dickson, 21, was released from hospital on November 25, last year, nine days before the accident.
Mr Dickson’s father Anthony told an inquest at the Coroner’s Court in Crook: “He had been ill, there was nothing more we could do.
“He shouldn’t have been let out, it was a major error to let him go.”
The hearing was told Lewis Dickson, of Adolphus Street West, Seaham, began his marathon journey in his Rover 25 on December 1, driving for up to 20 hours a day.
On December 4 he drove more than 220 miles, arriving at Rushyford in County Durham by late morning.
Driver David Hewitt said Mr Dickson tried to overtake his Vauxhall Meriva as he drove northbound on the A167 towards Chilton.
“I heard the Rover pull out to overtake me,” Mr Hewitt told the inquest.
“I could see the lorry coming the other way and thought ‘he’s not going to make it’.
“The lorry tried to pull over to make a gap and I slowed.
“But it was such a short distance.
“He was just in front of me when he hit the lorry, parts of his car hit mine.”
Lorry driver Terence McGuinness said he veered as much as he could to the left, braked hard, sounded his horn and flashed his lights.
“I did everything I could to avoid the incident,” said Mr McGuinness. “He came straight for me.
“There was a loud bang, lots of steam and the next thing I recall was being slumped over the steering wheel.”
A post mortem examination found Mr Dickson died from multiple injuries. He had taken no drink or drugs, and had not taken his prescribed medication.
Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle said: “Mr Dickson had driven an awful long way, about 1,500 miles, without any apparent difficulty.
“I can’t say for certain why he drove in the way he did when the lorry came towards him.
“I suspect having driven for so long he would have been very tired, which may go some way to explain the error of judgment.”
Mr Dickson’s family declined to comment on the inquest, other than to say they wished the NHS had listened more closely to them.
Verdict: accidental death.