Inquest finds coach death was accidental

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An inquest was given the verdict of accidental death after a soldier was killed by a coach.

Matthew Cottrell, 24, was hit from behind by the Excelsior Coaches vehicle after being dropped off by a taxi driver on a dark road because he didn’t have enough money to pay his fare.

The taxi driver told the hearing police officers had asked him to drive Matthew home at about 0200hrs. He explained to the officers Matthew did not have enough money for the fare. It was agreed the taxi driver would take him as far as he could before leaving the soldier to walk the rest of the distance.

The inquest in Bournemouth heard the busy stretch of road had no lighting or pavement.

Kenneth Baker, 55, who was driving the coach, said he moved slightly towards the kerb to avoid an oncoming lorry when he struck Matthew.

He said: “I saw what I think was an arm, as I saw this I hit something on the front passenger side of the coach. There was a bang and the windscreen on the same side broke. I have never seen anybody walking along that road.”

Paul Byres was driving a Royal Mail delivery lorry. He told the inquest how he became aware of a large vehicle travelling towards him in the opposite direction.

“I saw the man but I didn’t have time to flash a warning, he said.”

PC John Heywood, a police accident investigator, said the coach was travelling between 47mph to 49mph and no blame was attached to the driver. Accident investigations concluded the coach driver had no time to react to the presence of Matthew. Mr Sheriff Payne, the Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset coroner, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: “I cannot fault Mr Baker’s driving of the coach. He was behaving perfectly properly. He had never come across any hazard like that. This is a very sad accident.”