A motorist driving a hired BMW sports car claimed he suffered blurred vision moments before he crashed into a Worthing van killing the driver.

Carpenter Geoffrey Wallace, 44, of St Elmo Road, Worthing, died instantly in the accident on the Falmer Road, at Woodingdean, in

September last year.

The BMW driver, Kevin Perkins, who suffered serious injuries in the crash, told an inquest he had no memory of the collision. The inquest heard how Mr Perkins, 25, of Crisp Road, Lewes, had been charged by the police on the morning of the hearing with careless driving and is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates' Court on March 17.

Mr Perkins, who had hired the powerful Z3 model for the weekend only three hours before the crash, claimed he was driving towards Woodvale crematorium to visit the place where his late grandmother's ashes had been scattered when the collision happened.

In a statement to police read out at the inquest, Mr Perkins told how he recalled overtaking vehicles and his vision became blurred. He said: "It was like someone had put a sheet or fog in front of me. It was a foggy, hazy light. I had never experienced it before." Mr Perkins, who said he was wearing contact lenses at the time of the crash, added: "I don't remember anything."

Witnesses told the Brighton hearing it was a sunny and clear morning when they saw the red sports car overtaking a line of vehicles at speed before Mr Perkins lost control and crashed into the van, which was heading in the opposite direction.

The van bounced sideways on impact and ended up in a ditch. Passing motorists stopped to help and the emergency services were alerted. Denis Williams, of Chapel Barn Close, Hailsham, manager of a care home, was driving a minibus with 13 elderly passengers, two of whom fainted when the accident happened.

He said: "Suddenly out of nowhere appeared a red sports car. It passed me at quite a speed. The driver appeared to lose control of the car and it swept to the left and then to the right. At that point a white van came down the hill and hit the BMW. It all happened so quickly. The van had no chance of avoiding the sports car."

PC Graham Welsh, who investigated the crash, said: "It is clear Mr Perkins attempted to overtake one vehicle too many. Everything just went wrong. His speed, position on the road and the on-coming traffic. There was nowhere for Mr Wallace to go. He was in the line of fire."

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley, said she was recording a verdict of accidental death but was not suggesting the crash was avoidable. She said: "Clearly it could have been avoided, but not by Mr Wallace. These matters are for other courts."

After the hearing Mr Wallace's family paid tribute to him. His sister Marina Sharpe said: "He was a brilliant family man and was always a careful driver." His widow, Mrs Wallace, said her husband had been

a hard-working skilled craftsman.

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