Council asked to review drainage at A396 crash site where Bampton teenager died
A CORONER has called on Devon County Council to improve drainage on a stretch of road near Bampton after stating sheet ice was partly to blame for the death of a popular teenager.
Dr Elizabeth Earland ruled that Luke Lyons, 19, from Bampton, died from a severe head injury after he lost control of his Renault Clio van on the A396 while driving to work in Bideford on January 25.
A number of motorists who used the road the same day reported in statements how water flowed across the highway from a saturated bank near Bickleigh Wood.
A layer of ice formed and drivers said they lost control of their vehicles at the same point where Luke’s vehicle left the road and rolled seven metres down an embankment.
Dr Earland, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said: “I am going to write to the highways authority because it does appear there may be some value in revising the drainage in that location because that appears to be a recurrent problem and I am aware we are very likely to have another severe winter.
“If something can be done to improve that, I would advise the authority to do so.”
The statement was made by Dr Earland after she asked MPC Mike Lackey, a police collision investigator, what measures could be taken to protect motorists from a similar event in the future.
Dry rock salt was spread on the road the previous evening but it was washed away by water, the inquest heard.
"The issue is clearly something that could be addressed by Devon County Council," MPS Lackey said.
"There was a lot of rain prior to this collision occurring which led to that bank being heavily saturated. It could be a possibility for highways to look at some form of better drainage to channel the water more directly to the drain."
He said there was a drain at the location, but that the water was not running into it.
A number of motorists told police there had been standing snow at the side of some stretches of road and many complained of losing control of their vehicles at the point where Luke left the road – including his father, Mark.
Mr Lyons, said in a statement that his son, a ground worker, left home for work at a Bideford construction site at around 6.50am.
Mr Lyons, a manager at the same site where Luke worked, said his son was “his normal self and in high spirits” when he left for work in plenty of time.
He recalled travelling through a tree-lined s-bend and over a small hill before the back end of his four-wheel-drive vehicle lost grip and slid onto the other side of the road. His statement read: "Water was running off the bank to the river below and it was the same patch of ice Luke must have hit before he lost control."
Luke was reported missing around 2pm and was eventually discovered by his father, who led his own search, shortly before 5pm when an ambulance was called.
MPC Mike Lackey, a police collision investigator, said the damaged caused to the car was not consistent with high-speed impact but suggested Luke could have driven slower due to the condition of the road.
Dr Roderick Simpson, consultant pathologist, carried out the post mortem examination and said Luke would have died “almost instantaneously” following a severe laceration to the brain.
The inquest heard that Luke had “everything to live for, was intelligent, enjoyed life, had many friends and was the happiest he had been for a long, long time”.