Dad died four days after motorbike crash involving uninsured driver, inquest hears

A loving dad died in hospital days after a motorbike crash when he collided with the side of a car being manoeuvred by an uninsured driver, an inquest has heard.
The late David Steel with his wife Diane.The late David Steel with his wife Diane.
The late David Steel with his wife Diane.

David Steel died at Sunderland Royal Hospital on July 28, 2019, after being involved in a collision on his motorcycle on Front Road.

An investigation was launched into the circumstances surrounding the 50-year-old’s death and no charges were made in relation to the crash.

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The inquest, which took place at Sunderland Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, April 20, heard how a white Mazda 3 had pulled onto the single carriageway road and had began to cross the two lanes.

As a result, Mr Steel, who had a provisional licence, had carried out an emergency brake.

CCTV, which captured the collision, shows the motorcycle drop to the ground before both the bike and Mr Steel collided with the side of the car.

Mr Steel suffered eight rib fractures and a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and died in hospital four days later.

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The inquest heard that the driver of the Mazda did not own the vehicle and was not insured.

She told police that it had been left by the owner outside her mother’s house days earlier as the owner had gone on holiday and wanted her to get the car checked because of a fault with steering.

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The driver said she had intended to turn the vehicle around and leave it where it was but facing the other way.

Evidence from a number of witnesses outlined the crash and one witness, who was travelling behind Mr Steel, said he appeared to be travelling the speed limit at 30mph.

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When questioned about his opinion of the Mazda’s manoeuvre, PC Michael Young, who was one of the investigating officers, said: “I believe it wasn’t safe.”

Adding: “If I didn’t have a clear view, I wouldn’t make the manoeuvre.”

Senior collision investigator PC David Martin, who also gave evidence, outlined the reconstruction carried out at the scene four days after the collision.

He highlighted there was a number of blind spots due to the cars design and said CCTV showed the driver of the Mazda appeared to be checking the road was clear and allowed for other vehicles to pass.

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PC Martin said it appeared Mr Steel wasn’t in the driver’s view at that time, adding: “Unfortunately she then started to travel across the road, she has this sweeping blind spot.

“There’s a very narrow opportunity between pillar B and C (through the rear passenger window) to see - only if she’s looking in that direction at that time.”

He said Mr Steel would have had a ‘perfectly clear view’ of the Mazda travelling across the road, adding that he ‘could have taken avoiding action’.

A post-mortem was carried out by pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton who gave a medical cause of death as multiple organ failure due to chest injuries and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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A toxicology report identified that he had used amphetamine which may have affected his ability to drive the motorcycle.

Giving a conclusion that Mr Steel died as a result of a road traffic collision combined with natural causes, assistant senior coroner Karin Welsh said: "The (car’s) manoeuvre was not an unlawful one but the driver was responsible for making sure the carriageway was clear. It appears on balance of probabilities that she has taken action to ensure it was clear bearing in mind the restrictions of the vehicle she was driving.

"I’m sure the difficulties in visibility were exacerbated by the fact David was riding a bike rather than a car. With a benefit of hindsight the driver of the Mazda may now consider this not to have been a prudent move to make hence perhaps the view of PC Young.

"David could perhaps have reacted differently and approached the scene more cautiously so as to be in a position to take alternative avoidant action.”

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In a statement outside the coroner’s court, his family said: “It’s been really hard for the last two years and we’ve sort of got a little bit of closure.”

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