Car impact 'like an explosion' - inquest

AN EXPERIENCED driver who died in a dramatic high-speed crash on the A12 was not wearing a seatbelt, an inquest heard yesterday.David Woodley, 31, suffered fatal injuries in the collision at Henham near Southwold, when he attempted to overtake at 85mph in his white Porsche 944 and crashed head-on into a Landrover Defender.

AN EXPERIENCED driver who died in a dramatic high-speed crash on the A12 was not wearing a seatbelt, an inquest heard yesterday.

David Woodley, 31, suffered fatal injuries in the collision at Henham near Southwold, when he attempted to overtake at 85mph in his white Porsche 944 and crashed head-on into a Landrover Defender.

Such was the impact, one witness described it as being "like an explosion".

Mr Woodley, a heavy goods vehicle driver, of Kirkley Run, Lowestoft, suffered severe head, chest, abdominal and pelvic injuries.

He drifted in and out of consciousness at the scene before being airlifted to the James Paget Hospital, Gorleston, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The driver of the Landrover, Michael Pickup, was also taken to the James Paget with a broken leg. He was eventually released.

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Mr Pickup, of Victoria Mill Road, Framlingham, was on crutches as he gave evidence to the Lowestoft inquest on the crash, which happened close to the Henham Old School in November last year.

Mr Pickup, 42, who was driving north towards Lowestoft, had been on his way to take his Landrover for a MOT test and then on to watch his son play rugby at Beccles when he saw a car coming towards him.

He said he "could not believe that someone was overtaking on his side of the road", and said the crash caused a "massive bang", spinning his car around.

Another motorist, Ian Freeman, of Kessingland, described the impact as "like an explosion" and said his own car was shaken by the force.

Police crash investigator PC John Rogers, of Halesworth Traffic Unit, added that Mr Woodley was stable when he was cut free from the car.

"His seatbelt was not in use at the time of the collision," he said.

PC Ian Fordham, of Suffolk police, said both cars suffered "immense damage" and in surveying both vehicles afterwards, he noted that "there was not a straight piece of metal on either vehicle."

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Lowestoft coroner George Leguen de Lacroix said: "I don't think there can be any doubt that Mr Woodley was driving at a high speed – at least 85mph. He certainly did his best to avoid the subsequent collision with very hard braking over a distance of 80m.

"But the damage to both vehicles indicates a very high-speed impact, sufficient to knock out the engine of the Landrover."

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