Under-inflated tyre led to teenager’s fatal crash on the A14

John Walsh

John Walsh - Credit: Archant

A teenager who died in a crash on the A14 had not spotted his tyre was underinflated when he stopped to check his car moments before, an inquest has heard.

John Walsh, 18, from Onehouse, near Stowmarket, was driving west towards Bury St Edmunds, when there was a “catastrophic failure of the rear nearside tyre”, according to police investigators.

The West Suffolk College student had been travelling with his girlfriend in the car when the accident happened near Rougham on May 26 last year. She suffered minor injuries in the crash, which happened just after 12.30pm.

Mr Walsh died the next day at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Speaking after the accident, his family said they were “absolutely devastated” to lose their beloved John.

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“John was well-known in the local community through his association with Stowmarket Rugby and Judo clubs,” they said.

“He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.”

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Speaking at the inquest held in Bury on Monday, Pc Jeff Cribb, from the accident scene investigation team, said Mr Walsh had pulled over just before going onto the A14 as he felt the car was not handling properly.

He said the Vauxhall Corsa appeared to have been in good condition apart from the rear nearside tyre, which was under-inflated.

“My view is that the initial problems reported by Mr Walsh in terms of the steering was the result of an under-inflated tyre,” he said. “Unfortunately he and his girlfriend weren’t able to recognise this problem and carried on their journey in the normal way.”

He told the coroner the car had then been driven at or near the 70mph speed limit in the outside lane of the A14.

Then, what Pc Cribb described as a “catastrophic failure of the rear nearside wheel” saw it rupture and separate from the car after it overheated.

After this, the car travelled towards the central barrier and ultimately rolled into a field. Mr Walsh died the next day from a hypoxic brain injury and a traumatic brain injury.

Last October, a charity rugby match in aid of the Canine Partners charity raised £1,600 in Mr Walsh’s memory.

Assistant Suffolk coroner Dr Daniel Sharpstone recorded a conclusion Mr Walsh died in a road traffic collision.

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