Maserati driver died in wet conditions

SPEEDING in wet conditions coupled with vastly differing tyre tread depths led to a driver's death on the A14, an inquest has heard.

Colin Adwent

SPEEDING in wet conditions coupled with vastly differing tyre tread depths led to a driver's death on the A14, an inquest has heard.

Geoffrey Whittaker was fatally injured on the Ipswich-bound carriageway near Coddenham when the Maserati he was sharing with his fianc�e left the road.

Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said a transcript of the 42-year-old's inquest would now be sent to the Department of Transport highlighting the dangers of different tread depths on the front and back tyres.

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The hearing was told Mr Whittaker sustained massive head injuries after his Maserati Spyder ended up in a ditch around 3.15pm on July 19.

Pc Kevin Stark, a Suffolk police accident investigator, said the depth of the tread on Mr Whittaker's front tyres was in excess of 6.5millimetres. However, his back tyres - although they were within legal parameters - were less than 3.1mm.

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Pc Stark told the inquest that he believed it should be standard practice for the tyres with the greatest depth to go on the back to ensure better road-holding.

On the day of Mr Whittaker's death there had been heavy rain which left surface water on the A14. The tragedy occurred when his Maserati overtook another vehicle at between 80 and 90mph.

When it then attempted to pull back into the inside lane the vehicle hit a puddle of water in the carriageway and spun out of control.

The Maserati went down an embankment and collided with post and rail fencing. As a result of the collision one of the rails came through the vehicle's rear windscreen and hit Mr Whittaker, of London.

He died from his injuries in Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge on July 21. Medical staff managed to keep him alive long enough to remove vital organs so they could be used to help others.

Dr Dean said speed together with the differential between the front and the rear tyre treads could have led to instability problems with the car as it went through the standing water.

He added: “Essentially, what we have here is a very tragic accident that took the life of Geoffrey Whittaker.”

After the inquest Mr Whittaker's family wanted to publicly thank the organ donor team at Addenbrooke's Hospital for their help and expertise.

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