A LORRY driver who died after he stepped into the path of a car on the A31 may have been walking to get food from a nearby service station, an inquest heard.
Gregory Prince (32), from Leeds, had parked his vehicle in a lay-by off the dual carriageway near Poulner in Ringwood at around 2pm on 2nd August last year before walking to the White Hart Inn pub.
Licensee Tracey Brawn said in a statement that she saw Gregory in the pub garden. Between about 3pm and 8.30pm he used his debit card eight times to buy various drinks she said, including pints of lager and Jack Daniels. She did not see him leave.
Driver Shelby Thomas explained in a statement she had been heading home from a day’s work in London when she was involved in the accident at around 9.40pm.
She said: “All of a sudden there was a loud bang. I had no idea what had happened but I felt a weight on me. I soon realised it was a person who had come through the windscreen.
“I can honestly say I didn’t see anyone in the road and I could not do anything to prevent the collision. This has really had an effect on me and I don’t ever want to drive a car again. I just wish this had never happened.”
Witness Emma Creed was driving westbound on the A31 that evening, heading to her home in Southbourne having visited relatives in Gloucestershire.
She told the court she was travelling at about 50-60mph and said: “I slowed down because my concentration had wavered and I’d come off at the wrong junction. In front of me, everything was completely normal.
“Suddenly out of completely nowhere I was aware there was a man who was at the right-hand-side of my bonnet. It totally confused me and surprised me.
“It was a split-second and then he stepped into the outside lane and the car in the outside lane hit him.”
She said the car involved was just overtaking her at the point of impact occurred, but was not passing at speed.
She added: “Because he was dressed in dark colours, the only time I realised it was a person was when his face was illuminated. He was walking with purpose, holding his rucksack. I don’t think he realised my car was there [and] he looked quite startled.”
Describing the noise of the collision as “like a grenade going off” she said she was in shock, but stopped further along the road in a lay-by and called the emergency services. Others also stopped to help direct traffic.
PC Anthony Clifford, a forensic collision investigator, told the court Miss Thomas’s VW Polo had suffered extensive front damage but an examination showed no pre-existing defects.
He said: “The pedestrian was likely to have been difficult to detect and in an area where a pedestrian is not expected. At speed, the driver would not have been able to prevent the collision.”
He added that Miss Thomas provided a negative sample for alcohol and drugs and her mobile phone was not in use at the time of the crash.
The inquest heard how Mr Prince was on the side of the carriageway where his lorry was parked less than 60 metres away and he was attempting to cross to the other side. PC Clifford could not explain why, but suggested he may have been trying to reach Burley services, around one mile away.
A female relative sitting in the court room said it was likely that after drinking, he would have wanted something to eat.
A single wireless earphone was found nearby which if it had been in use would have reduced Mr Prince’s ability to hear oncoming vehicles, PC Clifford said.
Pathologist Dr Vipul Foria, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said Mr Prince died from multiple injuries. Toxicology tests revealed he was more than double the drink-drive limit.
Coroner Grahame Short ruled that Mr Prince died due to a road traffic collision and said: “It is very dangerous to cross a dual carriageway in the dark with fast moving traffic. It would be difficult when sober but it is even more perilous if you have been drinking.
“The circumstances of this incident were deeply traumatic for the driver involved and Mrs Creed, but even worse for Greg’s family to lose him in this way.”