Driver error probable cause of fatal crash

The scene of the collision on the A697 last October.
The scene of the collision on the A697 last October.

A coroner has ruled that driver error was the most likely cause of a fatal accident on the A697 in Northumberland last year.

Darren Warnes, 46, of Ladybank in Fife, was killed when his Mazda 6 was involved in a collision with a Ford Transit on October 7, one mile south of the B6341 New Moor House crossroads.

Mr Warnes, a mechanic on his way to a race meeting at Brands Hatch, died at the scene as a result of head injuries.

An inquest on Monday heard statements from several witnesses who saw Mr Warnes’ Mazda veering over the central white lines before hitting a grass verge and sliding into the path of the oncoming van.

Collision investigator PC Andy Smith said it appeared Mr Warnes may have over-corrected his initial movement and this caused him to lose control of the vehicle. He ruled out speed as the cause of the crash, which happened in light rain.

PC Smith said: “It’s my belief that Mr Warnes suffered some form of distraction or loss of concentration which led to the vehicle drifting into the opposite lane. This may have been exacerbated by a number of factors including under-inflated tyres and a cracked coil spring which may have caused some degree of under-steer.

“It appears Mr Warnes realised he was on the wrong side of the road and over-corrected with harsh steering which led to loss of control.”

Tony Brown, senior coroner for north Northumberland, agreed with the opinion of the investigation officer and concluded the death was the result of a road traffic collision.