Motorcyclist died after hitting car at more than 70mph in Chatham
A motorcyclist who had accelerated to speeds above 70mph on a 40mph road in Chatham seconds before fatally hitting a car turning in his path had cannabis in his system, an inquest has heard. Engineer Lawrence Dick, 36, from Gillingham, suffered “unsurvivable injuries” after colliding with the Nissan on North Down Way in Lordswood.
The Nissan had been travelling in the opposite direction and was turning across the carriageway into the filter lane for Lordswood Lane. An inquest into Mr Dick’s death on July 21, 2021 was held on Tuesday (March 28) at Kent and Medway Coroner’s Court at County Hall in Maidstone attended by his parents John and Maria Dick.
The moments before the crash were explained at the inquest, informed by evidence of eye witnesses, CCTV and the account of a Mercedes driver, which Mr Dick of Swain Road had been behind before overtaking just before the collision. The inquest also heard toxicology reports found a reading of 7mcg of tetrahydrocannabinol per litre in Mr Dick’s blood, which is the main psychoactive part of cannabis. The legal drive limit is 2mcg.
Mr Dick was travelling northwards at an average speed of 71 to 77 mph in the moments before hitting the Nissan, according to forensic investigation by Kent Police serious collision investigation unit. From evidence read by assistant coroner James Dillon and heard from PC Lee Berridge from Kent Police’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit, Mr Dick had been riding his KTM 390 Duke behind the white Mercedes at around 6pm.
Nissan driver Susan Baxter, who had two children in the car and was driving southwards home, was using her indicator to turn “in a fluid movement”. As she crossed the northbound carriageway, Mr Dick hit her vehicle on the front.
The inquest heard Mr Dick was pronounced dead at 6.40pm at the scene, attended by emergency crews include the air ambulance. The driver of the white Mercedes said in evidence read out that she first became aware of Mr Dick behind her in the area of the leisure centre. She said he was driving “close behind her on the rear passenger side” and at that stage was doing around 40 to 45mph.
She saw the Nissan was waiting to turn right into Lordswood Lane. As she “came off the throttle as it was not an easy turn off”, she became aware of Mr Dick’s bike overtaking her on the right-hand side. She heard the “sound of the engine and the speed increasing”.
“It just shot past me like a flash. It was quick.” She said it must have accelerated as she was pulling out of the way, as she merged into the slip lane.
The crash happened around three seconds after the bike had overtaken her. In the position the bike had been following the Mercedes, the driver of the Nissan would not have been able to see the motorbike from her own car, the inquest heard. The Mercedes driver called emergency services.
The Crown Prosecution Service reviewed evidence of the collision and had found no ground for action against the Nissan driver for driving offences, the inquest heard. Mr Dillon, in summarising what had happened, said the Mercedes driver “knew there was going to be a collision before it happened”.
He said the Nissan driver would have had just over three seconds to see the motorcycle, such was its speed. The inquest did not say when Mr Dick had last used cannabis, but Mr Dillon said the “substance in his system would have had an effect on his judgement and reactions”
“Witness evidence tends to show in the moments leading to the collision, (Mr Dick) was accelerating which indicates a failure to recognise a hazard or a perceived hazard and less time to deal with the unfolding situation.,” he said. He also said had Mr Dick been driving to the speed limit, the Nissan would have “likely cleared the path of Mr Dick and the vehicles would not have collided or it would have provided Mr Dick with greater opportunity to determine the presence of her vehicle and given her greater time and opportunity to have observed and reacted to the motorbike”.
“He died at the scene of the collision from multiple injuries he sustained. Nothing about the road design was a factor in the collision, said Mr Dillon.
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