A47 bus tragedy: Driver ‘had fallen asleep before’
Michael Elcombe was driving the Peterborough to Norwich Excel service when the crash happened on the A47 between Gurhirn and Thorney Toll, in Cambridgeshire, on June 26, 2018.
Mr Elcombe, 45, of Cley Road, Swaffham, died at the scene of the crash.
Passenger Brian Chapman, 76, from Kettering, also died at the scene.
Both suffered multiple traumatic injuries, while 17 others were hurt.
At an inquest at Peterborough Town Hall, Cambridgeshire coroner Simon Milburn heard the crash happened at around 7.30am, when the weather was fine.
A police report said the bus was travelling at 53mph and did not appear to slow down as the lorry pulled out of the Bretts Transport haulage yard and turned right towards Peterborough across Mr Elcombe’s path.
An inquest review in 2020 heard Mr Elcombe may previously have been involved in an incident of “micro-sleeping”.
Mr Elcombe’s wife Sonia said he would often get up for work at 4am after only a few hours of sleep.
She said she had been travelling on a bus driven by her husband which had hit cats’ eyes after he had “nodded off”.
“In my heart I dreaded something like this would happen,” she said.
Heather Burman, who drove for First Bus between 2014 and 2018, said a passenger had told her she had been on a bus driven by Mr Elcombe in April which had kept veering into the kerb because he was falling asleep.
Mrs Burman said the woman had complained about Mr Elcombe to an inspector at King’s Lynn bus station.
Chris Speed, operations director for First Bus, said the firm was not aware of any sleep-related incidents involving Mr Elcombe, who joined the company in 2004.
He said there had been confusion over the timing of the passenger’s complaint.
A sleep expert’s report concluded the collision was sleep-related.
Mr Milburn adjourned the inquest until today (April 19).
- ^ when the crash happened on the A47 between Gurhirn and Thorney Toll (www.edp24.co.uk)
- ^ may previously have been involved in an incident of “micro-sleeping” (www.edp24.co.uk)