Inquest into death of ‘loving’ family man who died in head-on collision

Eastbourne Town Hall
Eastbourne Town Hall

Tributes have been paid to a ‘loving, genuine and wonderful’ family man who sadly died in a head-on collision with a lorry, an inquest heard yesterday (Thursday).

33-year-old Paolo Rossi was killed after his motorbike hit a lorry on the A27 by Folkington Manor in Polegate on March 27.

He was described by family as an ‘always smiling and laughing’ and ‘a good friend and a gentle soul’ who was ‘funny, loving, romantic, kind, protective of his family’ and whose aim in life was to make others happy.

The court in Eastbourne Town Hall heard Mr Rossi, who was travelling to his home in Seaford, lost control and started to ‘fish tail’ while breaking heavily. He and the lorry driver, Graham Clarke, had both been travelling within the speed limit.

His mother said in a statement, “The last time I saw him was the Friday before Mothers’ Day. It was a beautiful day, he had driven over to bring me my present. He wanted to go home and walk the dogs.

“He was always there for his brothers and me, he was always looking on the positive side of things, and was always the voice of reason – this was repeated by his friends.

“He was living with his teenage sweetheart, Paula. His life was perfect, the children and dogs completed him, and his beloved VW Campervan.

“He adored his step children and threw so much into raising them and he worked so hard to provide for his little family.

“He got up at four o’clock every morning and worked until 5pm. He spent time with the children and cooked the evening meals.
“He was a loving, genuine, wonderful young man, always smiling and laughing. He was a good friend and a gentle soul. He was funny, loving, romantic, kind, protective of his family.

“His aim in life was to make other people happy, often at his own expense.

“He never took anyone for granted. His hair was often in a crazy mohican style. He loved to cook, he made amazing Italian food.

“We are all completely lost without him. He was truly unique. I wouldn’t change anything about him, except change places with him that day.”

The court then heard from Zach Kieran, who had been driving behind when the incident happened.

He said, “I was thinking about the day I had at college.

“Then all of a sudden there was a huge lorry coming towards us.

“There was some kind of erratic movement of the motorcycle. I think he might have seen the lorry and panicked.

“There was a swerving motion right before the collision.

“Then it hit the lorry, there was a massive explosion of noise, smoke and debris. The rider was catapulted off the back and went flying in the air.

“The motorcycle seemed to explode and came to rest.

“I was unable to do an emergency stop. As soon as I could I ran back to see if I could have helped. There was nothing anyone could do.”

Mr Rossi was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

The court also heard from the lorry driver, Mr Clarke. He said, “As I approached the entrance to Folkington Manor to the offside there is a slight bend to the left.

“I must have been travelling about 40-50 mph. I noticed on the Westbound a male wearing a full High vis Jacket, he was cycling a mountain bike slowly but tucked into the kerb.

“I saw a van (either white or silver) which appeared to change its shape, it gave me the impression that he was going to go around the cyclist. He must have realised there was no gap with my vehicle so he braked heavily.

“My eyes were taken off him as I saw a motorbike closing in on the rear of the van. I saw the motorbike start to fish tail, it happened so quick.

“The biker was already braking but being a biker myself he must have pulled the brakes even harder. This has then brought the rider on to my side of the road.”

Forensic collision investigator Christopher Harrison read from a detailed report he had made of the accident.

He said, “Tragically he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Alan Craze, coroner for East Sussex, concluded Mr Rossi had died as the result of a road traffic collision.

He said, “The person on the motorbike always comes off worse because there’s no protection.”

Speaking to the family, he said, “You are dealing with a desperate tragedy.

“At the end of the day this has been an absolute tragedy and a devastating event for you to have to come to terms with, so I extend my deep condolences to you.”