Driver died eight months after crash

A SUFFOLK lorry driver lay unconscious in hospital for more than eight months after being fatally injured in an accident on the A140, an inquest has heard.

A SUFFOLK lorry driver lay unconscious in hospital for more than eight months after being fatally injured in an accident on the A140, an inquest has heard.

Charles Wright, 62, of Greenlands, Bedfield, near Framlingham suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries in the accident at Creeting Bottom on February 4 this year.

He was treated at Ipswich Hospital, transferred to Addenbrooke's in Cambridge and then returned to Ipswich Hospital where he spent several months in the Intensive Therapy Unit.

He never recovered consciousness and died on October 17.

The inquest also heard that delivery driver Gary Oakley, 32, of Miller's Lane, Norwich, died instantly in the accident, which happened at about 5.45am.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean sat with a jury which recorded an open verdict in respect of Mr Oakley and decided that Mr Wright's death was accidental.

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A post mortem revealed that Mr Wright's death had been caused by his being in a vegetative state which in turn had been caused by the accident in February.

Mr Oakley died from multiple injuries. Both post mortems indicated that the men would have known nothing after the initial impact.

Mr Oakley's partner, Tanya Cook, told the inquest that on the day before his death he had been busy around the house and they had been for a drink at the Whiffler pub in Norwich before he went to work at Allied Bakeries' depot in the city.

He had told her he was feeling quite tired before he went to work and she had said perhaps he should not work that night.

Bakery boss Mark English said delivery drivers would normally work through the night taking bread to outlets across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Mr Oakley was employed by an agency and drove a three-and-a-half tonne delivery lorry twice a week.

His route went from Norwich to Framlingham, Saxmundham and other towns ending up at Felixstowe, from where he returned to Norwich.

At the time of the accident, Mr Wright was driving his articulated lorry, which was fully loaded, south along the A140 and Mr Oakley was returning to Norwich.

Accident investigator Pc Andy Garden said that from marks left on the road and other evidence, it was clear that Mr Wright's lorry had been on the correct side of the road at the time of the accident, although he had attempted to avoid the crash a split second before impact.

Mr Oakley's delivery truck had strayed about a metre across the centre of the road, which was marked by a double continuous white line at this point, catching about 18 inches of the front of the HGV. Analysis of the lorry's satellite positioning system suggested that it was travelling at around 60mph at the time.

Pc Garden said it was not known why the delivery lorry had strayed across the centre of the road.

He felt it was unlikely that Mr Oakley would have fallen asleep at the wheel because that normally only happens if the road is long and straight and does not require attention from the driver.

Mr Oakley had not been distracted by a mobile phone call, although it was possible that he could have trying to change a cassette - it was not possible to find any radio/cassette player in the wreckage because the damage was so severe.

There was also no evidence of mechanical failure.