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Andrew Payne died following a 'momentary loss of attention'
A 32-year-old postman died from catastrophic injuries after his BMW hit a Tesco lorry on the A38 near Tideford last year.
An inquest in Truro today (Friday, July 19) heard that Andrew Payne died after a suspected momentarily loss of attention when his car crossed white lines and collided with the articulated lorry.
A forensic collision investigator suspected he was attempting to retrieve food from a bag on his passenger seat at the time of the “split second” accident at around 4.50pm on Monday, June 4, 2018.
The inquest at Truro Magistrates Court heard from police inspector Helen Dewaele-Davis, who had attended a meeting in Plymouth and was driving behind Mr Payne on her way home.
She said she was driving around the “sweeping bends” between Landrake and Tideford when the blue BMW in front of her carried straight on instead of following the bend, hitting the lorry in the other lane.
She added that three-quarters of the car hit the lorry, spun in a half-circle and ended up with its rear end embedded in the side of the road outside Kilna Guest House.
Ms Dewaele-Davis parked on a verge and rushed to the car to see if she could assist. She could see through the window that the driver was dead.
She stressed that there was nothing the driver of the lorry could have done to avoid the collision.
The Tesco lorry driver, Alan Perris, told the inquest he was returning from Falmouth and had taken a rest in a layby just ten minutes before the crash.
He said he saw a blue flash before seeing black as the car swerved in front of the windscreen. He lost control and ended up on the other side of the road halfway down a bank. A tree narrowly escaped crashing through his cab.
“Someone was looking after me, if I’m honest,” said Mr Perris.
Mr Payne’s brother-in-law, a fellow lorry driver, reached over to Mr Perris while he was giving evidence, shook his hand and said how sorry he was.
The inquest heard that Mr Payne died from a traumatic head injury and had to be identified from his dental records.
Andrew Fletcher, a forensic collision investigator with Devon and Cornwall Police, told the inquest that road and weather conditions were good and everyone concerned was driving within the 50mph speed limit.
There was also no evidence of Mr Payne enduring a medical event before the collision. His car didn’t have any defects either.
Dashcam footage from a car driving behind Mr Payne shows two occurrences when he was seen to drift or was late to manoeuvre around a bend.
Mr Fletcher came to the conclusion that the driver had been distracted.
Mr Payne had a bag on the passenger seat containing items including chewing gum and a snack bar. He was found with his left arm inside the bag.
“This is a good indication that he was trying to get something out of the bag at the time of the collision,” added Mr Fletcher.
Mr Payne wasn’t wearing a seat belt and had a “stopper” placed in the seat belt aperture which stops any alarms sounding. The inquest heard he may have used it for his work as a postman for constant stopping while delivering mail.
Mr Fletcher said wearing a seatbelt wouldn’t have made any difference “with an impact such as this”.
Assistant coroner Barrie van den Berg stated that Mr Payne’s catastrophic injuries were probably caused by a momentary loss of attention causing his car to cross the carriageway into the path of the lorry.
He gave his deepest sympathies to Mr Payne’s family as he was “far too young to die the way he did”.
Mr van den Berg also told Mr Perris that he was unlucky and in the “wrong place at the wrong time” and was in no way to blame for the fatal accident.
Mr Payne had worked for Royal Mail for ten years and was a passionate footballer, playing for his local team, Pensilva FC.
Paul Davies, Royal Mail delivery office manager at Tavistock, said at the time of his death: “Andrew worked with Royal Mail for ten years and we are shocked and saddened by his tragic death.
“He was a well-liked manager and will be sadly missed by his colleagues in Tavistock and the Plymouth delivery area.”
A Justgiving page set up to raise money for Mr Payne’s family last year described him as a “cheeky little legend” who was taken far too soon.