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Inquest told lorry driver Gurdip Johal who crashed off bridge onto A12 near Witham unaware what load he was pulling

PUBLISHED: 12:48 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:54 17 July 2017

The lorry which veered off the A12 and crashed below a bridge. Inset, Gurdip Johal. Picture: ERIN BRISTOW

The lorry which veered off the A12 and crashed below a bridge. Inset, Gurdip Johal. Picture: ERIN BRISTOW

Archant

An HGV test driver whose lorry crashed off a sliproad and onto the A12 at Witham earlier this year did not know what load he was pulling, an inquest has heard.

Gurdip Johal died when the articulated lorry he was driving overturned on Coleman’s Bridge at the Witham North junction of the A12 as he left the carriageway.

The lorry containing an uninterrupted power supply – made up of multiple batteries – crashed through the barrier and was left hanging over the embankment with the cab suspended over the A12.

The A12 southbound was closed for two days following the incident.

Mr Johal, of Humber Road, Witham, died at the scene on February 8, and a post-mortem examination confirmed he had no drugs or alcohol in his system. He died of heavy blood loss.

Gurdip Johal. Picture: FAMILY PHOTOGurdip Johal. Picture: FAMILY PHOTO

An inquest into his death held at the Essex Coroners’ Court in Chelmsford today heard the trailer had an unusually high centre of gravity due to the nature of the batteries.

• Tributes paid to ‘Superman’ brother and son Gurdip Johal

Mr Johal, who worked as a technician with Harris Trucks based in Witham, was on a warm-up drive before the vehicle had its brakes tested.

The inquest heard Mr Johal, 30, was an experienced driver who had driven the route daily.

Pc David Howard, from the Essex Police forensic collision investigation unit, said the right-hand bend combined with the camber and the lorry’s speed lead the vehicle to be “unstable”.

He added that by the time Mr Johal realised something was wrong there was nothing he could do to rescue the situation.

The bridge where the lorry fell onto the A12 between Kelvedon and Witham on February 8. Picture: NIGEL BROWNThe bridge where the lorry fell onto the A12 between Kelvedon and Witham on February 8. Picture: NIGEL BROWN

But he told the court if the lorry had been carrying a normal load it was likely it would have successful negotiated the bend.

Clinton Fitt, service manager with Harris Trucks, said the trailer had been padlocked and the firm did not know what it contained – adding that when companies left vehicles for pre-MoT testing they were usually empty.

Essex senior coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray concluded Mr Johal’s death was an accident, adding the incident was “tragic”.

Gurdip Johal with sister Mandip. Picture: FAMILY PHOTOGurdip Johal with sister Mandip. Picture: FAMILY PHOTO

Gurdip Johal and his wife Mandy. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDGurdip Johal and his wife Mandy. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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