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Home Thanet News Article
A popular Ramsgate dad died when the cement mixer truck he was driving overturned on a motorway sliproad.
An inquest heard that Lee Harrington, 39, had not been breaking the speed limit, but the loaded truck had toppled because it had been travelling too fast for the type of vehicle and load, on the curving slip road off the M25.
No other vehicle had been involved. After hearing forensic evidence and from other drivers, coroner Roger Hatch ruled that the father’s death, from head and chest injuries, was accidental,.
He explained that legal representatives were in court because: “Mr Harrington’s family are concerned whether Mr Harrington should have been driving that particular lorry on that particular day. I understand they will be pursuing a civil claim in due course.”
The inquest was told that just before 3.30pm on November 22, the weather had been good, conditions fine and the road surface damp but in good order. The Renault had no defects. Mr Harrington had no traces of alcohol or drugs.
Driver David Avery had followed traffic off the M25 at junction 5 on to the A21 slip road, where the motorway roadworks 50mph restriction ended. He had glimpsed the Renault in front. Next time he saw it, it was on its side and had collided with the crash barrier.
Mr Avery had gone to check Mr Harrington, a divorcee who lived with partner Lucy, 42, at St James Avenue.
He said: “He was out of the cab, with his head facing down, with the crash barrier and the lorry on top of him.
Attempts had been made to free him, but it had not been possible.
Motorist Kim Phipps had followed the cement mixer and had been on the inside lane of the slip road, with the Renault in the outside lane.
She had had no concerns about Mr Harrington’s truck until, on the bend, she had seen its wheels leave the ground. She had felt the driver had been “going a bit fast.” The lorry had gone on to its side and there had been a large cloud of dust.
The Renault’s tachograph revealed that in its final 550 metres, it had accelerated from 47mph up to 53mph.
Robert Giles, a forensic collision investigator with Kent Police, said: “I would say 50mph is an excessive speed for such a vehicle, particularly if the vehicle is loaded.” The effect could have been exacerbated by displaced aggregate inside which would have lowered the speed at which the Renault would have rolled.
“Depending on the height of the centre of mass, rollover could occur between 48 and 55mph,” added the investigator.
The coroner said: “It is apparent that the vehicle was travelling at a speed in the order of 50mph on the bend and as a result of that speed, the vehicle went over on to its side. I cannot rule whether a criminal liability exists. That is for other courts to deal with in due course.”
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