Biker Mark Oarton died after suffering ‘catastrophic’ head injuries when he crashed into a truck on his way to work.
The 56-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene after his Yamaha motorcycle ploughed into the flatbed lorry as it pulled out of a layby on the A523 Leek to Macclesfield road near Rudyard.
Following analysis of CCTV footage, collision investigators believe Mr Oarton, of Astbury Ends Lane, Congleton, was likely to have been travelling at 98mph before the crash. The inquest heard Mr Oarton was on his way to Cheddleton where he worked as a maintenance supervisor when the accident happened around 7 am on April 21st, 2017
In a statement read out at North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court, truck driver Michael Lucas said he was crossing the road to join the northbound side towards Macclesfield. Mr Lucas, of Prees near Whitchurch, a driver for almost 40 years, said: “I was facing the southbound lane of traffic. I intended to get out across the southbound and onto the north. It was just after 7am and traffic was light and visibility was good.
“I looked behind me and nothing was coming. I also had my window down to listen out for anything. When I was sure there was nothing I pulled out across to the northbound. I got to the centre of the road and I became aware of the bike in the southbound lane. I carried on moving out and the engine noise stayed the same, it was as if they hadn’t seen me.”
The inquest heard workers Justin Hague and Craig Dalton, both of Congleton, were travelling towards South Cheshire from Leek when they saw Mr Lucas’s vehicle.
Mr Hague said: “I could see it was just starting to pull out. I commented that I thought the driver needed to put his foot down and it looked like it was going in slow motion. I started to break to avoid changing right down to bottom gear. He was then more squarely across the road and turning to complete the manoeuvre. Then I heard a thud and saw lots of debris from the other side of the flatbed. I couldn’t see what had struck it but I thought it would be a motorbike because if it was a car it would have moved the lorry. Craig went out and two other drivers pulled up and I called for an ambulance. Craig came back just shaking his head.”
Emergency services were called and former South Cheshire College student Mr Oarton was pronounced dead at the scene. A post-mortem revealed Mr Oarton, a trained electrician, had suffered catastrophic head injuries.
In a statement, his wife Kelly Oarton said Mark was a safe biker who carried out checks on his Yamaha and always wore protective clothing.
PC Carl Kelsall, of Staffordshire Police Collision Investigation Unit, said it was ‘highly probable’ the biker caught on CCTV travelling towards the scene was Mr Oarton. Analysing that footage, experts believe he was travelling at an average speed of 98mph – the limit for that road is 60.
PC Kelsall said: “At that point he was 140 metres away and doing an average of 98mph. To decelerate from that speed to stop could take 121 metres and that doesn’t take into account reaction time.”
The inquest heard if Mr Oarton had been going at the limit he may well have been able to stop in time – or lessen the impact. Officers also confirmed the Crown Prosecution Service would not be taking any action against Mr Lucas.
North Staffordshire assistant coroner Anthony Curzon concluded Mr Oarton died as a result of a road traffic collision. He said: “The loss of this life is a tragedy.”