Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Did Cumbrian fatal crash driver suffer heart attack?

A DRIVING instructor had a heart attack 12 hours before he died in a fatal crash – and may have had a second “cardiac event” moments before the collision.

An inquest into the death of Eric Coulson, 62, of Wigton, heard how he died on March 29 last year when his car crashed head on into a truck on the A596 bypass, near the town.

At the time of his death, Mr Coulson, of Wampool Place, was standing trial accused of sexually assaulting two female driving pupils – charges he denied.

He had been due to give evidence at Carlisle Crown Court on the day of his death.

An inquest in Carlisle heard yesterday that Mr Coulson had a “very serious coronary artery problem”.

Mr Coulson’s car hit a lorry driven by Stephen Bache from Liverpool.

Giving evidence, Mr Bache, said: “He (Mr Coulson) just kept veering over and over the road and he was going faster and faster.

“I had nowhere to go. I just closed my eyes and remember saying I’m going to lose my legs and then there was the noise.”

Mr Bache, who was working for the NHS supply chain, said Mr Coulson’s car was coming at him in a straight line. He said: “It all happened in about five to six seconds – it was so quick.

“When I realised that he was going to hit me I just slammed on the brakes.”

Mr Bache said Mr Coulson’s head was just above the speedometer and that he was in a position stretched out to the left towards the passenger seat.

After the collision Mr Bache said he opened his eyes and saw smoke, steam and water in front of him.

“The buzzer was going off and I shouted out “he’s dead”. I’d banged my knee but I got out of the cab and remember Jo Beattie (the driver following Mr Coulson’s car) running towards me. I remember telling her that it wasn’t my fault. I wanted to go and check on him but Jo pulled me away.”

Mr Bache was off work for three months after the crash.

Alison Johnston, a housewife of Wigton, dialled 999 on her phone and checked on Mr Coulson.

She said: “I told the ambulance to get there quickly. He had chest and head injuries and wasn’t conscious. I knew he was dead but I just kept saying his name just in case. His hand was up like a claw as if he was holding himself.”

Mr Coulson’s family found out about the crash via a text message.

Elaine Coulson, Mr Coulson’s wife, said on the day he was due to give evidence at court (day two of the trial).

She said: “He took the dog out for a quick walk and then he took our grandson to school and then got some dog food. I told him to get some bread and milk while he was out but when he came back in he’d forgotten.

“He said he’d go back out and get it but I said we’d get it later.

“I don’t think Eric was ever suicidal. He was low, he was stressed but he never said anything about taking his own life.

“He felt a lot more positive about the court case after the first day.

“I don’t think this was a deliberate act as he would not have chosen that method. He spent most of his adult life teaching others about road safety and he would not have risked anybody else’s life,” added Mrs Coulson.”

North and west Cumbria coroner David Roberts said: “The exact reason as to why he should be on the bypass that morning is unclear.

“He may have suffered a second cardiac event prior to the crash.

“He had had a heart attack in the 12 hours before he died. He may not have known about that.

“He was going to be under stress that day and may have decided that a ride out in his car would help him settle.

“It is perfectly possible that he had a second heart attack within 12 hours of his death and it is possible he was feeling the effects of that.

“He may have been suffering from an irregular heart beat and as he travelled along he may have been feeling unwell.”

Medical evidence from Dr Fergus Young, a consultant pathologist at the Cumberland Infirmary, said Mr Coulson had had a heart attack in the 12 hours prior to the crash and that he died of multiple injuries.

Mr Roberts recorded a verdict of accidental death.


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