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A23 motorist killed by falling lamp post
A driver died after being hit on the head by a falling lamp post dislodged when a second motorist lost control of his fruit and veg van, a court was told.
Colin Booth, 57, suffered massive head injuries and died at the scene of the crash on the A23 at Pyecombe shortly before 6am on October 4, 2011.
Barry Edwards, 58, who denies causing Mr Booth’s death through careless driving, is accused of losing control of his van as he travelled on the southbound carriageway and subsequently “overcompensating” to correct the error – causing the vehicle to flip numerous times into the central reservation.
Witnesses said Mr Booth’s van was “ripped open like a tin can”.
Rossano Scamardella, prosecuting at Hove Crown Court, yesterday, said Edwards’ errors led to the lamppost becoming dislodged, killing Mr Booth who was travelling on the northbound carriageway.
He said there were a number of reasons Edwards could have lost control – including the fact there was a “high centre of mass” – the van was filled with fruit and veg.
He also said there was evidence Edwards was speeding at between 70 and 80mph – a medium goods vehicle has a maximum speed limit of 60mph – and that he took the bend at speed.
Mr Scamardella, opening the case, described “dust and debris filling the air” after Edwards’ van overturned, temporarily blinding other drivers.
Referring to Edwards’ van, he said: “The van… suddenly ‘twitched’ to the right, towards the central reservation.
“There was nothing on the road that might have caused this reaction, and there were no other vehicles nearby.
“Having twitched to the right, Mr Edwards steered the van harshly to the left, as if to compensate.
“However, it seems he overcompensated. He veered back to the right before the van flipped over.
“The van rolled two to three times before coming to rest the right way up in the central reservation.
“As it rolled, dust and debris filled the air, damaging some of the cars travelling past and obscuring drivers’ vision.
“Incredibly Mr Edwards was able to walk out of the van unaided.”
At this point, Mr Scarmadella told the court, Edwards said to a woman driver, Nicola Rich: “Actually, yes, I’m fine.”
He said Ms Rich said: “He just did not know what had happened.”
He said Ms Rich described Edwards as looking “confused and bewildered”.
Mr Scarmadella continued: “As it was rolling towards the central reservation, Mr Edwards’ van hit a lamppost.
The lamppost was dislodged and began falling.”
Mr Scarmadella said another driver, Mark Reeves, managed to narrowly avoid the lamp post.
But the car in front of him, being driven by Mr Booth, of St Anne’s Road, Eastbourne, was hit, Mr Reeves said. A third driver, Darren Snell, pulled over.
Mr Scarmadella said: “Mr Snell went down to Mr Booth’s van and pulled open the driver’s door.
“He noticed the windscreen was completely smashed in and Mr Booth was sat in his seat with the seatbelt on. Mr Booth had very obvious serious head injuries.”
Edwards, 58, of Worcester Road, Crawley, is on bail. The trial continues today.