Motorist drove wrong way on A14

By Liz HearnshawA MAN who died after driving the wrong way along the A14 had been warned by medics not to get behind the wheel after suffering confusion just days before the accident.

By Liz Hearnshaw

A MAN who died after driving the wrong way along the A14 had been warned by medics not to get behind the wheel after suffering confusion just days before the accident.

An inquest heard double-glazing fitter Graham Whitfield, of Top Road, Rattlesden, had been referred to Ipswich Hospital by his GP three days before the fatal crash on February 2.

Although the 50-year-old had been diagnosed with a brain tumour 14 years earlier, emergency CT scans showed no change from previous tests - but medics did prescribe drugs and advised him not to drive.


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But three days later, witnesses reported seeing Mr Whitfield's Ford Mondeo travelling in the wrong direction along a slip road onto the A14.

The inquest in Bury St Edmunds was told yesterday that several other motorists had described “near misses” as Mr Whitfield drove westbound along the eastbound carriageway before colliding with a white Scania articulated lorry near Woolpit.

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In a statement read to the hearing, Pc John Rogers, of Suffolk police, said lorry driver John Davies, who had been travelling at about 50mph at the time of the accident, had made a “considerable effort” to avoid the collision. Mr Whitfield suffered multiple injuries, which proved fatal, and Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Dr Dean described Mr Whitfield's medical history as “significant” and said the 50-year-old had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1991 and underwent a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

He had visited his GP three days before the accident after suffering from bouts of intermittent confusion and was referred to Ipswich Hospital for immediate assessment.

A CT scan showed no change in his condition since his previous check-up and lead clinician Dr Nicola Trepte prescribed medication - and formally advised Mr Whitfield not to drive.

“He was described by those who knew him as someone with a happy disposition, who was confident and lived life to the full. He loved boating, caravanning and following Ipswich Town,” added Dr Dean.

“We have a situation clearly where there was a history of intermittent confusion, which appeared to have got better when Mr Whitfield was in the casualty department.

“We have the report of the driving and how the driving was seen to have taken place on that particular day.

“One wonders whether Mr Whitfield had an occurrence of the confusion - and, of course, he had been advised not to drive.”

liz.hearnshaw@eadt.co.uk

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