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Bad conditions contributed to road death

PUBLISHED: 07:54 22 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:31 03 March 2010

HORRENDOUS weather conditions led to the death of police officer Peter Evans, a Suffolk inquest has heard.

Coroner Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death yesterday on Pc Evans who died when the police car he was a passenger in crashed on the A12 at Great Saxham on February 24 2001.

HORRENDOUS weather conditions led to the death of police officer Peter Evans, a Suffolk inquest has heard.

Coroner Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death yesterday on Pc Evans who died when the police car he was a passenger in crashed on the A12 at Great Saxham on February 24 2001.

The inquest, at Bury St Edmunds, heard evidence from witnesses who saw the car on its journey and after it smashed in to a telegraph pole and lay on its roof on the grass verge at around 2.30am.

The driver of the car, Pc Wayne Naylor, also gave evidence.

Pc Naylor told the court that they had been trying to catch up with another car when he was confronted with a huge white line across the road.

It later emerged that the white line was probably a snow drift gathered in the road.

"I remember over taking a post van and I was going about 100mph. I looked in the rear view mirror to pull in to the left hand lane and then I looked forward and all I could see was this white line.

"I immediately thought the car was going to slip so I took my foot off the accelerator. And I recall the vehicle losing traction.

"I can remember nothing after that only voices outside," he said.

The white line of snow or slush was backed up by other officers who arrived on the scene later.

Coroner Peter Dean asked him if he thought he was driving at an appropriate speed.

Pc Naylor replied: "My primary concern is always for the safety of passengers and other road users. I felt it was an appropriate speed."

Both Pc Evans, of Avenue Approach, Bury St Edmunds, and Pc Naylor were trained to an advanced driving standard and were qualified to be in the armed response vehicle being driven that night.

Pc Naylor gave evidence that he had seen three cars while they were driving through the village of Kentford. They followed the cars as it was common practice to stop cars at that time of night to find out where they were going and also whether they were drink driving.

The court also heard how other drivers had experienced terrible driving conditions with driving sleet and freak snow storms.

Gary White, a postal worker based in Bury St Edmunds, told how he was driving at around 70 mph when he was over taken by the police car.

"The road conditions were horrendous. The car over took me on the road prior to the accident and it must have been travelling at about 100mph.

"At some points I had to slow down because the snow was so bad. I did not see the police car chasing anyone else and I was a bit concerned about its speed but I thought they were trained to do that."

Phillip Goodwin, a driver for the Suffolk Emergency Doctors, said the roads were like glass.

He went on to tell the court that he followed a fire engine because conditions were so bad and he felt it would be safer to keep behind the vehicle. He saw the accident and stopped so the doctor he was travelling with could help.

"We stopped to see if we could help but the doctor confirmed that Pc Evans, 33, was dead at 3.31am."

When delivering his verdict Dr Dean said this had been a death in, "truly tragic circumstances." He spoke of the horrendous and unpredictable weather and paid tribute to Pc Evans and Naylor and their dedication to their job.

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