Coroner can provide ‘no definite answers’ after man killed in road crash

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A driver who was momentarily distracted lost control of his car and hit a tree.

The inquest into 69-year-old Clifford Knapp’s death took place at Loughborough Coroners’ Court on Tuesday and heard he was driving towards Edith Weston from Manton when the accident happened at 11.30am on November 10.

Mr Knapp, of Lyddington, was pronounced dead at the scene and a post-mortem examination gave the cause of death as head and chest injuries.

Forensic pathologist Dr Michael Biggs, based at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, said in a statement: “In my opinion, these head and chest injuries were unsurvivable and would have led to an extremely rapid death.”

Dr Biggs said there were other injuries consistent with having being involved in a crash.

There were no drugs or alcohol in his system, apart from a prescribed drug for knee pain which Mr Knapp was taking normally.

Giving evidence, accident investigator PC Brian Johnson said the car, a white Vauxhall Corsa, had no significant defects that would have contributed to the crash.

His investigations concluded that Mr Knapp had lost control of his vehicle on a bend and had briefly gone onto the grass verge. As he tried to correct this action, his car crossed the carriageway onto the other side of the road and hit a tree on the opposite verge.

The car spun 360 degrees and came to rest facing the way he had been travelling.

PC Johnson said Mr Knapp had been travelling at about 55mph - within the speed limit - and should have been able to easily negotiate the bend. He added that the crash would have happened in “literally seconds”.

He said: “It’s possible the driver has been distracted before the impact by something either inside the car or outside.”

He suggested possibly a bird or animal. He added that he couldn’t rule out a “medical episode” but that the post-mortem examination found there was no evidence of a medical condition that could have contributed.

Recording a verdict of road traffic accident, coroner Carolyn Hull told Mr Knapp’s family: “I’m acutely aware we can’t give you any definite answers to what happened but it seems there was a momentary split second lapse in concentration for whatever reason.”