Saturday, 25 September 2021

Motorcyclist killed in crash with tractor on deadly road

A MOTORCYCLIST was killed when he fell off his machine while trying to avoid hitting a

A MOTORCYCLIST was killed when he fell off his machine while trying to avoid hitting a farm tractor, an inquest heard.

Sean Keating, 49, of Badgers Rise, Caversham, died when his Triumph Thunderbird collided with the tractor and trailer on the A4074 near Woodcote at about 2am on October 6 last year.

He suffered multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, Oxford Coroner’s Court heard.

Members of Mr Keating’s family, including his parents Alan and Valerie and three daughters, attended the inquest at county hall in Oxford.

The coroner Alison Thompson said she believed Mr Keating was trying to overtake the tractor as it turned right into a field.

The motorcyclist braked and came off his bike and “in all probability” hit the tractor but the fatal injuries were probably caused by contact with the road rather than the vehicle.

James Aldridge, who was driving the tractor, was part of a team harvesting maize. He had been working since 11am the previous day and had already made about 30 trips between the field and Icknield Farm nearby. He said he had worked long hours all his life and was used to it.

Mr Aldridge was driving back to the field after taking a break when the crash happened.

He said: “I heard an almighty bang and my first instinct was that my drawbar had broken or there was something wrong with the trailer.

“I jumped out of the cab and came round the front and I saw something on the ground. I didn’t know what it was at first but then I thought, â??oh my God, it’s a motorbike’.”

He called 999 and attempted to resuscitate Mr Keating before paramedics arrived. Mr Aldridge estimated that he had been travelling at about five to eight miles per hour when the accident happened and said he had indicated well before starting to turn into the field.

“It was a catastrophic accident,” he said. “On my behalf, I can’t see I was doing anything incorrectly. I was driving to the Highway Code and the vehicle was in pristine condition.

“I can’t see what I could possibly have done to stop this happening. I class myself as a professional driver and it’s what I do for a living.”

In a statement, Mr Aldridge’s colleague Darren Collis, who was driving a tractor and trailer about two minutes behind him, said a motorcyclist believed to have been Mr Keating overtook him at “high speed” shortly before the accident.

Both tractors and trailers were fitted with headlights and tail-lights, as well as flashing amber beacons to warn other motorists that they were slow-moving vehicles.

Mr Keating’s family said the beacon on the back of Mr Aldridge’s trailer, which was on the right side above the indicator, could have confused him as to whether the tractor was indicating.

Tony Reading, forensic collisions investigator with Thames Valley Police, said skid marks and scratches at the scene suggested Mr Keating braked before falling off his bike, which slid along the road before hitting the tractor. The front wheel was crushed and several spokes broken.

Mr Reading said: “It’s a particularly bendy road and has a reputation for accidents. Mr Keating put the bike down, either deliberately or by falling, and slid for about 23m. There was then a collision between the bike and the tractor and Mr Keating could have been between the two. In all probability he hit the tractor.

“The bike wasn’t travelling at high speed at the time of impact but how fast it was going prior to that I can’t tell. My conclusion is that the collision was due to an unfortunate choice by Mr Keating to overtake as the tractor was turning right.”

Mrs Thompson recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision.

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