United Kingdom

Father-of-two, 35, was knocked down and killed by an ambulance

A 36-year-old pedestrian, drunk after a wine-tasting event, was knocked down and killed by an ambulance as he staggered in the middle of a dual carriageway in darkness.

An inquest heard that Adrian Bourne was hit by the 999 vehicle which was being driven normally and was not on an emergency call, but was travelling at slightly above the 60mph speed limit.

Mr Bourne's father questioned the evidence being given to the hearing in Oxford, claiming that the ambulance should have been going slower because it was dark and the road conditions were damp.

However, a traffic collision expert said that it was unlikely the 5mph speed the vehicle was travelling at above the 60mph limit, would have made little difference to its stopping distance.

Adrian Bourne, 36, (pictured) was knocked down and killed by an ambulance as he staggered in the middle of a dual carriageway in darkness

Paramedic Matt Curd, who was driving the South Central Ambulance Service vehicle, told the coroner the incident happened in the early hours of the morning on November 29 last year near the Peartree roundabout on the A34 dual carriageway in Oxford.

He said in a statement read to the inquest by the coroner: 'We entered the A34. I was aware of my colleague talking to control. No other vehicles were around. I continued to accelerate to 50 to 60 miles per hour. The next events happened so quickly that I can't remember.

'I checked both wing mirrors and as I returned my eyes to the road I saw a person immediately in front of us. It took a fraction of a second. I felt the ABS kick in and shards of glass were falling everywhere.

'At this point my training took over. I switched on all the emergency equipment. I ran to the person lying face down on the grass verge.'

Assistant Oxfordshire coroner Nicholas Graham heard that Mr Bourne, from Chippenham, Wiltshire, had been intoxicated after an evening at a wine tasting event for a construction company. He had been taken back to his hotel in Oxford by a taxi, paid for by his friends.

Stock image of a South Central Ambulance Service ambulance, similar to the one that fatally struck Mr Bourne 

One of his friends told the coroner: 'Adrian was quite drunk, although he had eaten a kebab. We paid for a taxi to take him back to the Cotswold Lodge Hotel and that was the last I saw of him.'

However, despite attempts by the hotel night manager and the cab driver, Mr Bourne did not go to his room but walked off. The inquest heard from a motorist, Fiona Sutherland, who encountered him and tried to get him to safety but when he refused, she called the police and drove off.

The assistant said: 'The taxi driver tried to tell the male to go back to the hotel but the male ignored him and decided to continue walking. The night manager's statement confirms what we have heard.'

Referring to Mrs Sutherland's statement, the coroner said: 'She reports seeing a male, very drunk, staggering around the pavement wearing a white shirt. He wasn't wearing a jacket. They asked if he was okay but he waved them away and wouldn't speak to them.

'There was a similar incident with a nightshift lorry driver who remembers a male who appeared to slide through an embankment. He was smartly dressed with brown shoes. The stretch of road was pitch black.'

The coroner went on to describe the ambulance driver's version of events.

'Matthew Curd, the ambulance driver, confirms in his statement he was travelling with his colleague in the early hours of the morning on November 29. It was not an emergency trip. The roads were wet but no notable surface water. Visibility was limited.'

The Cotswold Lodge Hotel, where Mr Bourne had been staying at the time of his death, pictured above 

David Watson, the collision investigator, described the scene after the incident and told how the ambulance had been going at five miles over the speed limit of 60mph.

'There was body fluid along the full length of the skid mark. The evidence suggests he was roughly in the middle of the first lane. The ambulance was driving with lights on dipped beam.

'The distance you can see is less on dipped beam than on main. The GPS data gives us an indication of the ambulance's speed, which was around 65 miles per hour. The 5 miles over 60 made, I suggest, no difference to the stopping distance.

'We out-drive headlights at any speed above 30mph. You don't expect people, you don't even really expect animals, on the road. With hindsight, yes, if we travelled at 30mph everywhere, there would be very few accidents.'

In his conclusion Mr Graham said: 'Having heard Mr Watson's evidence, I am not convinced that the speed was a significant factor. It was the case that it was an unusual circumstance. He seemed to have been intoxicated, which may have impacted his own abilities.

'Mr Bourne of Berkeley Close, Chippenham, Wiltshire, died of multiple injuries in a road traffic collision.

'He was walking on an unlit section of the A34 near the Peartree roundabout when he was hit by an ambulance driven in non-emergency circumstances.'

Speaking to the victim's father, he added: 'I am conscious it (the inquest) can seem a very cold and formal process but I want to thank you. I know that nothing I can say can make any difference to your loss, but I want to express my condolences to you and your wider family as well.'

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