An elderly Spalding man was killed when he drove into the path of an oncoming lorry for no apparent reason, an inquest has heard.
Trevor Chapman (76) died on the Spalding-bound carriageway of the A16, about a mile-and-a-half from the Sutterton roundabout on Sunday, November 11 last year.
He was alone in his Vauxhall Astra van when it collided with a 36-tonne Scania truck being driven at about 50mph by FreshLinc employee Nerijus Cizas.
The inquest at Boston Coroner’s Court today (Wednesday) heard that 34-year-old Mr Cizas had been talking to his wife via a handsfree phone set at the time and yelled at her that he thought he was about to die.
“I suddenly saw a white Vauxhall coming in the opposite direction driving straight towards me,” said Mr Civas in a statement. “I could not see any reason for this. As soon as I knew the car wasn’t going back into its side of the road I steered left very quickly. I steered to try and avoid a collision but the car carried on towards me and I couldn’t get out of the way.”
He added: “I remember screaming in Russian to my wife that this was the finish for me. I thought I may die.”
Dashcam footage from the lorry and another vehicle showed Mr Chapman’s van twice cross the central white line in a “deliberate” fashion as if going to overtake, but there was nothing ahead of him. On the first occasion a car driver behind Mr Chapman sounded his horn and the Vauxhall returned to the correct carriageway.
Shortly afterwards it happened again and the inquest was told that Mr Civas had two seconds’ reaction time before impact. The lorry driver flashed his headlights and steered left towards the verge. Following the collision the loaded lorry ditched on its nearside.
Collision investigator Rachel Sheldon reported that Mr Civas reacted in a timely manner and his phone conversation had not caused or contributed to the collision.
She said the evidence pointed to it being “highly unlikely” that Mr Chapman had been distracted or had suffered a medical episode and ruled out him falling asleep at the wheel or being blinded by sunlight.
“The steering manoeuvre is a positive act rather than a drift,” she said, adding that the collision being a deliberate act was a possibility since Mr Chapman had tried to take his own life on three previous occasions, twice by road accident, albeit about 50 years ago.
However, area coroner Paul Smith said he discounted that possibility.
“When the horn was sounded Mr Chapman was seen to return to his own carriageway and when he crossed the white line on the second occasion, the officer notes from a review of the dashcam that there is evidence Mr Chapman was beginning to steer back to his own carriageway, although clearly it was too late.”
Mr Smith concluded that the death of Mr Chapman, of Chestnut Avenue, was a consequence of a road traffic collision