INQUEST: Young Seaford motorcyclist died after colliding with Land Rover in Berwick

Eastbourne Town Hall
Eastbourne Town Hall

A 23-year-old tragically died after his motorbike collided with a Land Rover towing a horse box in Berwick.

Jacob Packham, of Pelham Place, Seaford, had been overtaking the Defender in Station Road. He did not realise it was turning right nor that its driver hadn’t seen him, an inquest heard yesterday (Thursday).

The scene of the collision. Picture by Dan Jessup

The scene of the collision. Picture by Dan Jessup

Despite help from passersby, including a cyclist who performed CPR, Mr Packham died of his injuries later in hospital.

Witness Jeanette Adams described the incident, which happened at around 12.15 on March 19 this year near the entrance to Arlington Reservoir.

She said she heard a ‘roaring’ noise and saw a motorbike overtaking her ‘at speed’.

Mrs Adams said, “It alarmed me as it was on a blind brow, I took my foot off the accelerator to let him in.

“He was going about 50-60mph. Then he was about 200 yards in front overtaking the car in front, swooped past it and wove past in a semi-circle coming in very quickly behind the horse box.

“The Land Rover was indicating right and slowing down.

“He accelerated, didn’t realise it was indicating right.

“He had tucked in right behind the horse box, about a foot behind. He came straight out again despite the fact it [the Land Rover] was indicating right.

“He hit the Land Rover just in front of the driver wing mirror.”

Speaking to family members who were present, she said, “I’m really sorry. He must have gone 15 feet into the air. 
“He went over the Land Rover and came down on the fence.”

The witness said of the cyclist Charles Evans, “His actions were so courageous, he did everything he could. Jake was surrounded by people trying to help him and caring.”

The inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall also heard from Kevin Whitmee, 58, the driver of the Land Rover.

He said, “I started to turn, that’s all I can remember, there was a big bang, I thought something had fallen out the sky.”

Mr Packham’s mother, present at the inquest, said, “I just wanted to get in my head what my son was thinking. He wouldn’t have overtaken if he knew you were indicating.”

To this the coroner Alan Craze said, “This is the classic definition of an accident – one or more things going wrong at the same time.

“We don’t put families through this ordeal unless we think it might do some good in the long run. It’s to understand what’s happened and put some finality to things.”

The inquest also heard from PC Steve Ashby, forensic collision investigator.

He said, “The Land Rover was turning right into a public car park. As it turned right it was struck by a motorcycle.

“Tragically the motorcyclist sustained injuries which he died from later in hospital.”

PC Ashby added, “The Land Rover driver should have been aware of the vehicle’s blind spot and exercised extra caution.”

Mr Craze concluded Mr Packham had died from a road traffic collision.

He said, “Neither the motorcyclist knew of the presence of the indicator and the driver didn’t know the motorbike was present.

“Those were the two factors in this tragedy.”

He said to the family, “This is an appalling tragedy for you. I’d like to conclude by expressing my sympathy and condolences to you.”