Crash could not have been avoided says coroner at inquest of Fareham motorhome driver

£15m homes scheme for St James’ Hospital site sparks fears over traffic and city overcrowding

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A HORRIFIC crash involving a motorhome driver from Fareham could not have been predicted, a coroner ruled today.

Richard Granville Cooke, of Seafield Park Road, had died moments before his vehicle collided with a tipper truck on the A31, near Wimborne, Dorset.

An inquest at Bournemouth Coroner’s Court heard that the 67-year-old Royal Navy veteran had suffered a tear in his heart due to a build up of material in the artery walls seconds before the crash, killing him and causing him to swerve into the truck’s path.

Mr Cook’s three-week old Fiat Autotrail motorhome hit the yellow DAF tipper truck, operated by Dorset County Council, at 10.14am on Thursday, July 24 last year.

The snowplough on the council truck pierced the motorhome cabin and completely crushed the driver’s side.

The motorhome driver’s wife Joyce Cooke was in the passenger’s seat and miraculously survived. She was taken to Southampton General Hospital by air ambulance with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the county council truck, Steve Roper, from Weymouth, also suffered serious injuries and was taken to Poole Hospital.

Speaking at the inquest, Mr Roper, 40, said: ‘I just wish I could have done more. I keep playing it over and over again, thinking if only I had done this or that but nothing would have changed what happened unfortunately.’

Mr Cooke was pronounced dead at the scene.

Coroner Sheriff Payne said: ‘This was sadly a natural event that was totally unpredictable.’

He ruled Mr Cooke’s death as due to natural causes.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Cooke’s son Giles Cooke, from Dartford, said: ‘I loved my dad very much. I am sorry that he is gone. He was a good friend and he will surely be missed.’

Mrs Cooke , a retired nurse, spoke fondly of her ‘bubbly and loving’ husband and said she felt lucky to be alive.

She said: ‘I know now that whatever I would have done that I could not have saved him. It is closure.’

She added: ‘I am sorry that the incident has caused the truck driver so much hurt and damage.

‘I would also like to thank all those at Southampton General Hospital and the paramedics who worked so hard to help me survive. They were all so helpful.’