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Tractor crushed pick-up in smash

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: April 11, 2002

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A STAFFORD motorist died of burns and smoke inhalation when his truck caught fire following a collision with a tractor.

Anthony Wardrop's pick-up truck was crushed beneath the tractor in Stoke Heath Lane, Hilderstone, on October 12 last year.

The 40-year-old driver-labourer, of Sidney Avenue, Stafford, died after the tractor, driven by local farmer Kenneth Elkin collided with the truck. The resulting force made the tractor’s wheel drive up and over the bonnet and roof.

Lorry driver Anthony Pickin was driving along Stoke Heath Lane at the time of the accident. He told the court he saw the tractor, which he could hear revving loudly, and a red car - the pick-up - to its other side.

Mr Pickin said: "I knew something bad had happened. The tractor driver was holding his left leg and dialling a mobile phone. He was in a panic.

"Moments later I saw flames below the car, which took hold very quickly. There was a loud explosion and the fire was getting more intense. Due to the way the tractor was sitting on the roof of the pickup, there was little chance of getting in."

Tractor driver Mr Elkin, of Castle Farm, Milwich, chose not to answer questions on solicitor's advice.

Coroner’s officer, Howard Carter gave the cause of death as burns and inhalation of fumes. He also read out part of an interview between Mr Elkin and PC Justin Hales, of Stafford police. He said: "Mr Elkin told police he wore glasses for driving and he was wearing them at the time of the accident."

It added that he was travelling at around 20mph and that the front wheel was on the bonnet. He was unable to reverse off it.

PC Carl Kelsall, of Staffordshire Police’s accident investigation unit, said: "The bonnet of the pick-up was crushed and the passenger roof was crushed to seat level."

He was unable to calculate either vehicle’s speed, but said both drivers would have had a clear view.

Staffordshire South coroner Andrew Haigh ruled out poor visibility or excessive speed as the cause of the accident.

"On balance, there is no suggestion of dangerous driving or alcohol. I think it is fair to say it was an accident."

He recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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