Serviceman died in car accident

AN AMERICAN serviceman was killed instantly when a car driven by his friend veered into the path of an oncoming coach, and inquest has heard.Senior Airman Jonathan King, 22, had been stationed at RAF Mildenhall for just four months when the accident happened on the B1106 at Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds in April.

AN AMERICAN serviceman was killed instantly when a car driven by his friend veered into the path of an oncoming coach, and inquest has heard.

Senior Airman Jonathan King, 22, had been stationed at RAF Mildenhall for just four months when the accident happened on the B1106 at Timworth, near Bury St Edmunds in April.

During yesterday'sinquest, coroner for Greater Suffolk Dr Peter Dean was told the ageing Citroen car, driven by Gregor McNair, 25, may have been pulled across the carriageway by a trailer it was towing at the time.

Witnesses driving along the stretch of roadway between Fornham St Martin and Great Barton reported seeing the trailer "violently snaking and bouncing" from side-to-side just prior to the collision.


You may also want to watch:


The car then veered into the path of the oncoming coach and spun at an angle, leaving the passenger side suffering the majority of the impact.

Michael Sturgeon, who was driving the empty bus back towards Bury St Edmunds after dropping a group of schoolchildren in Mildenhall, suffered minor injuries in the collision.

Most Read

He said: "The trailer was snaking left and right behind the car. The next thing I knew was that the trailer was way out of control. I braked to stop, and the car flew round and slammed into the front of the bus."

In a written statement, read at the hearing, James Dickerson, who stopped to help following the accident, described how he pulled Mr McNair from the wreckage of the Citroen after smelling petrol fumes.

Senior Airman King, who was trapped in the car, was pronounced dead at the scene, while his friend was transferred to hospital. The inquest heard the airman suffered multiple injuries in the crash including a fractured skull.

Police accident investigator Pc Christopher Rodda said officers who examined the coach found no defects with the vehicle.

But the Citroen, which did not belong to Mr McNair, had failed its MoT, while the trailer, hired from a local company, had not been maintained properly and needed bearings replacing and new brakes. However these defects, Pc Rodda said, had not contributed to the accident itself.

Mr McNair, who spent time in intensive care following the crash, told the inquest he could not remember events leading up to the incident.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Dr Dean said: "The passenger side impacted heavily against the oncoming coach, which had clearly already slowed down as much as possible. There is nothing Mr Sturgeon could have done to avoid the collision."

After the inquest, Senior Airman King's father Johnnie, who had travelled to Suffolk from Arizona for the hearing, said: "I am glad we came over for the inquest, as it has added some closure to what has happened.

"Jonathan enjoyed life in Suffolk and like to travel overseas. I told him to explore different countries, and when he had the opportunity to come to England, he took it. Jonathan loved military life, and liked the camaraderie amongst the servicemen."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter