'Human error' may have led to Mold teenager's death

Reporter:

Steve Craddock

‘HUMAN error’ is believed to have led to the death of a teenage moped user in a two-vehicle crash, an inquest heard.

Luke Sean Edwards, of Queen Street, Mold, died on March 15 on an unclassified road which runs from Mold to Nercwys.

The 18-year-old retail assistant, who was born in Wrexham, was involved in a two-vehicle road traffic collision when he was traveling on his Lexmoto Dart 125 moped and collided with an oncoming Fiat 500 car.

Resuming the inquest into Mr Edwards’ death in Ruthin on Friday afternoon, Nicola Jones – assistant coroner for North Wales East and Central – said a post-mortem examination conducted by Dr Mark Atkinson revealed nothing which could have contributed to Mr Edwards’ death.

The cause of death was determined by Dr Atkinson to be multiple injuries.

Laura Cooper, who was driving the Fiat 500, said in a witness statement her two young children were in the car with her at the time.

She told the inquest that as she neared an uphill bend in the road, a vehicle she described as a motorbike came into view over the brook of the hill. She said it appeared to be in the middle of the road and that she made eye contact with the rider, who appeared not to be in control of the vehicle.

In the statement she continued: “The next thing there was a loud bang – everything happened so quickly.”

Samantha Peters, a nursery driver, saw the incident.

In a statement read out by Nicola Jones, Ms Peters said: “The red Fiat was rounding the bend and a bike suddenly appeared at the top of the hill. It looked like it was going too fast.

“It swerved and the bike went sideways and slid. The rider want into the air and his helmet flew off.”

An ambulance was called and several people attempted to administer CPR following the crash, the inquest heard, but Ms Jones said: “His death was inevitable, he was unconscious from the impact and his injuries were unsurvivable - but people at the scene did everything they could.” 

A statement from forensic vehicle examiner Gary Jones explained that following a thorough examination of both vehicles, the only defect found with Mr Edwards’ moped was a gradually deflating front tyre which did not appear to be caused by any punctures but by the porosity of the tyre itself.

Mr Roberts said the tyre was found to be at 17psi - as opposed to the recommended 29psi – and the condition of the tyre may have caused the vehicle to understeer.

The only significant defect found with Mrs Cooper’s car was a nearside front puncture, which had been caused on the roadside verge when she took evasive action after seeing Mr Edwards on the bike, the inquest heard.

PC James Nobbs of North Wales Police said he found Mr Edwards’ helmet at the roadside.

When asked why it had come off, he said tests showed no defects with the helmet itself or the chin guard and that there were no ongoing issues with the model of helmet.

PC Nobbs expained that the speed limit of the road is 60mph, the ‘theoretical’ speed the bend can be taken at is 57mph and that the design maximum speed of Mr Edwards’ bike was 55mph – meaning he could not theoretically have exceeded the set speed limit.

Mr Edwards’ mother Rebecca told the hearing her son had only had the bike for two weeks.

In his conclusion, PC Nobbs told the hearing: “The weather was fine, the road was dry and there were no obstructions. There is nothing about this bend that would catch you out as a normal driver.

“This young lad has misjudged his entry speed into this bend. I don’t think he has exceeded the speed limit – it is probably just an inappropriate choice of speed attributed to human error on the part of Mr Edwards.

“He had probably seen the oncoming car and it has exacerbated the problem.”

He added the sliding of the bike may have been caused by harsh cornering or heavy braking. When asked if anything more could have been done by Mrs Cooper to avoid the collision, he added: “There was nothing more she could have done – it is clear that she reacted quickly.”

Ms Jones concluded that Mr Edwards died as a result of a road traffic collision and described his death as “an awful waste”.

The hearing was also told drivers heading in the opposite direction on the road did have signage warning them to drive slowly.

Nicola Jones said she will write to Flintshire Council’s highways department to ask whether they
will consider examining the road with a view to installing signage the other way.

Email:

steve.craddock@nwn.co.uk

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