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Gloucestershire Business News

Lorry driver dies on the M5

A Co-op lorry driver may have been distracted by police blue lights when he crashed to his death into the back of another truck which had stopped to protect the scene of an accident on the M5 near Tewkesbury, Glos, an inquest heard yesterday (March 18).

Both lorries burst into flames on impact and the Co-op truck driver Tomasz Hass, 37, of Stroud Road, Patchway, Bristol, was killed, the inquest was told.

A police collision investigator stated that Mr Hass may have been distracted by the flashing blue lights of police vehicles on their way to the scene of the original incident when a car had hit a road sign and the safety barrier - or he may have been fatigued and not realised that the truck ahead of him was stationary on the carriageway rather than the hard shoulder.

Mr Hass may have been driving on cruise control because his lorry had been going at a constant 52mph for 44 minutes prior to impact and did not brake or slow before the collision, the officer added.

Assistant Gloucestershire Coroner Roland Wooderson recorded a conclusion that Mr Hass died as the result of a road traffic collision on the M5 northbound between junctions 9 and 10 near Tewkesbury on 25th September last year.

The coroner said Mr Hass, who died in the seat of his Co-op articulated lorry, was identified by dental records.

A post mortem report said he died of the effects of burns and multiple traumatic injuries. There was no evidence that he had inhaled carbon monoxide, indicating that he died of his injuries before the fumes of the fire could have affected him.

A statement to the inquest from police collision investigator Pc Simon Edwards said there were three vehicles involved in the incident - Mr Hass's Scania truck, another Scania truck owned by Aldi, and a car.

On arrival at the scene he found that the car was in lane one and its front was 1.6metres onto the hard shoulder and almost at right angles to the direction of the carriageway.

"It was heavily damaged at the front," the officer stated.

"The Aldi lorry was central in lane one. It had been completely destroyed by fire. At the rear of the Aldi lorry was a Co-op lorry with its front embedded in the rear of the Aldi lorry's trailer.

"Mr Hass was deceased and was still in his vehicle. The cab of his lorry had also been destroyed by fire. "

Mechanical checks of Mr Hass's vehicle found no faults or defects, he added.

The tachograph of the Co-op truck showed it had been driven at 52mph the 44 minutes leading up to the collision. Mr Hass' mobile phone was checked and he had not been using it at the time of the incident.

The officer said marks on the road showed that the car had left the carriageway on the nearside and collided with a steel A-frame temporary road sign and then impacted with the steel safety barrier.

The car driver had called 999 to report his vehicle in lane one at 5.20am. The Aldi lorry driver, a Mr Jones, also called emergency services and said he had stopped at the scene to protect the car.

At 5.29am a CCTV camera on the road nearby was turned to record the scene of the incident and one minute later the Co-op truck driven by Mr Hass was seen to collide with the rear of the stationary lorry, pushing it forward. They both caught fire.

The officer said that also at 5.29am the Highways Agency had placed an alert to road users that lane one ahead was closed. At 5.30 thar alert changed to show lanes 1 and 2 both closed.

Mr Hass should have had the opportunity to see that sign before arriving at the scene, the officer said.

"The cause of this collision was Mr Hass's failure to avoid the stationary Aldi lorry which had been parked to protect an unlit and damaged car.

"The reasons for this are unclear. Two of the witnesses who passed the scene said they had only realised 5-10 seconds away that the Aldi lorry was not on the hard shoulder and was in fact on lane one.

"Assessing the lateral position of the vehicle could have been difficult in the conditions. People could have assumed it was on the hard shoulder.

"It is also possible that the police flashing blue lights may have distracted Mr Hass in the final moments as he approached the Aldi lorry, having assumed it was on the hard shoulder. It should be noted that the police having flashing blue lights would be standard procedure.

"It may also have been that Mr Hass was not aware of the Aldi lorry because of some distraction, possibly fatigue. As he was doing the same speed for 44 minutes he could have been using cruise control. There was no change in speed prior to collision."

Conclusion: Road traffic collision.

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