Sleep deprivation was major factor in fatal collision
A“LIKEABLE” young soldier from Torquay who crashed into the back of a lorry as he drove back to his barracks had hardly slept for 24 hours before dying in the collision, an inquest heard.
Gunner Joshua Gilbert-Bufton’s fatal collision was due either to fatigue or distraction, a police collision investigator told the inquest in Gloucester. Torquay-born Josh, 20, who was based in Colchester with Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, had been visiting his girlfriend Abigail Farr in Hereford and was on his way back to barracks at 4am on May 16 this year when he died on the A417 Crickley Hill, just outside Gloucester and Cheltenham.
Collision investigator PC William Gibson said Josh had left his girlfriend’s home at 3am and was driving his VW Golf up Crickley Hill, 400 metres from the Air Balloon roundabout, when he hit the back of a fully-laden 40-tonne six-axle lorry. The lorry was doing only 20mph at the time.
The car smashed into the lorry and then rolled 50 metres back down the hill before coming to a stop, said the officer.
When police and ambulance arrived on the scene Josh was dead. A post mortem found he died from multiple skull fractures and brain injury.
PC Gibson said it was clear from his investigations that whether or not the lorry had been in front of Josh at the time, the car was veering off the road to the near side.
He said he had established from Josh’s girlfriend that “he had taken very little break in terms of sleep within the 24 hours prior to getting into the vehicle.”
There was no alcohol or drugs in Josh’s body and no evidence that he had been using his mobile phone in the car, the inquest was told.
Recording a conclusion that Josh died in a road traffic collision, the coroner Katy Skerrett said: “As a result of the collision he sustained fatal injuries which would in all likelihood have caused his immediate death. The reason was distraction or fatigue and both of those could have been in operation at the time.”
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