HAILSHAM: ‘Blind spot’ to blame for experienced rider’s death

A FATHER-of-two died from head injuries after his scooter collided with another car while overtaking a learner driver.

Johnny Thomas, 63, of Swan Road in Hailsham died at King’s College Hospital in London on September 3 after a three-way accident at Grove Hill, Hellingly on August 16.

An inquest into his death held at Eastbourne coroner’s court on Thursday March 10, heard how Mr Thomas, an experienced motorbike rider, had been riding his Longjia LT125 motor scooter southbound towards Hailsham behind learner driver Chloe Rochester’s silver Vauxhall Corsa, when he pulled into the path of a Grey Citroen which had started to overtake him.

Witness Timothy Smith was carrying out landscaping work along the side of the road when he saw the accident unfold.

“I was standing there, the learner came around the corner followed by the motorcycle.

“I saw the lady indicating to come by. I thought, ‘blimey the motorbike is pulling out as well’,” he told the court.

“It looked to me as though he didn’t know the car was there, he just pulled out,” he said.

In a statement read out in court, Miss Rochester said she had seen the Citroen, driven by 59-year-old Sandra Pamplin, had almost overtaken Mr Thomas’ bike when he begun to pull out.

“I believe the motorbike rider had failed to check it was safe to pull out,” she said.

“It hit the side of the car that was overtaking it.

“It hit the rear passenger side door, it seemed to fall over onto its right hand side immediately.

“It was almost one action. My dad brought the car to a controlled stop to the side of the road.

“I was in a state of shock by what I had just seen, being new to driving,” she said.

A forensic collision investigator found that Miss Rochester’s driving had neither caused nor contributed to the collision.

He also found the overtaking manoeuvre was appropriately initiated and executed by the driver of the Citroen.

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of accidental death.

“It seems that the blind spot is the most likely explanation,” he said.