Fall­ing tree crushes car and kills con­ser­va­tion­ist

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Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - FRONT PAGE -

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So­cial sci­en­tist David Hoyle was driv­ing his sil­ver Citroen Xsara Pi­casso at 70mph when the roots of the large tree be­came dis­lodged in the ground.

De­spite brak­ing, the 48- year- old was un­able to stop his car in time, suf­fer­ing fa­tal frac­tures to his skull as the tree landed on top of him.

At an in­quest at Bas­ingstoke Coroners’ Court on Mon­day he was de­scribed as a ‘ loved son, hus­band and fa­ther’.

Mr Hoyle, of Cron­dall near Alder­shot, had spent his life work­ing to pro­tect African forests and nat­u­ral ecosys­tems from be­ing de­stroyed.

The court heard the fa­ther- of- three had been trav­el­ling on the A287, a dual car­riage­way, near Odi­ham on June 6 this year.

As Mr Hoyle’s car was pass­ing by the cherry tree, its roots be­came dis­lodged in tor­ren­tial rain, caus­ing it to fall on top of his car.

Po­lice de­tec­tive sergeant Paul Plews told the court he had been the first to ar­rive on the scene as he had been fol­low­ing Mr Hoyle in an un­marked car.

DS Plews had worked as a medic in the army prior to be­com­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer and was trained in bat­tle­field treat­ment tech­niques.

He told the in­quest: “I ap­proached the ve­hi­cle and saw one male in the driver’s seat.

“He had lac­er­a­tions to his head and there was blood com­ing from his nose. His neck was also turned at a funny an­gle, in­di­cat­ing a bro­ken neck.

“I checked for a pulse and to see if he was breath­ing but I judged that he was al­ready dead when I ar­rived at the car.”

The in­quest heard the tree had been in­spected twice in the year and a half prior to it fall­ing but the only con­cerns raised had been about some dead­wood in the branches

Hamp­shire County Coun­cil chief ar­borist Mark Weal, re­spon­si­ble for forestry at the road­side across the county, had sent one of his staff to con­duct a full in­spec­tion af­ter the ac­ci­dent.

He said: “My col­league Michael Ri­p­ley said the tor­ren­tial rain had caused the roots to heave and the tree to fall across the duel car­riage­way.

“Two in­spec­tions had been con­ducted on the tree in Fe­bru­ary and Novem­ber 2016 but the tree was not deemed a dan­ger, nor was it felt it needed felling.”

Hamp­shire Po­lice crash in­ves­ti­ga­tor Tony John­son said checks on the fil­a­ment in Mr Hoyle’s brake lights had re­vealed he at­tempted to stop but could not do so be­fore the tree crushed his car.

Mr Hoyle spent his life work­ing in con­ser­va­tion af­ter earn­ing a de­gree in ge­og­ra­phy at Read­ing Univer­sity and his masters in nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment in Ed­in­burgh.

He met his wife, Marce­line in Cameroon while work­ing on a con­ser­va­tion project in 2002. With her he had. three chil­dren.

He had most re­cently been work­ing with Ox­ford- based nat­u­ral re­source com­pany Pro­for­est, try­ing to help de­vel­op­ing trop­i­cal coun­tries to stop de­for­esta­tion.

Record­ing a ver­dict of ac­ci­den­tal death, North Hamp­shire coro­ner An­drew Bradley said he hoped Mr Hoyle’s fam­ily could take some com­fort in know­ing he did not suf­fer. He said: “It is plain to see that David was a loved son, hus­band and fa­ther.

“I hope that, de­spite great sad­ness, it might help the fam­ily to have heard the ev­i­dence in per­son today.

“It is of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance that he did not drive into the tree but that the tree fell on top of him.

“This caused ma­jor trauma to his skull, frac­tur­ing it in sev­eral places.

“He would not have suf­fered, as these in­juries were not ones com­pat­i­ble with life. I am record­ing a ver­dict of ac­ci­den­tal death.”

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