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M5 crash inquests: Day one from Shire Hall in Taunton
Updated 9:12am Tuesday 1st April 2014 in News
This live event has finished
For updates from day two, click here.
OFF-duty police officer Andrew Bibbings drove north past Junction 25 a few minutes before the accident.
He had travelled from Plymouth in "70 to 75% fog", but there was nothing giving him "undue concern" and motorists were driving sensibly.
Mr Bibbings added: "Just after J25 on the left, there was a significant fireworks display.
"I encountered a bank of what I considered to be smoke - a solid barrier of white smoke, slowly drifting from the left hand to the right-hand side and it covered all three lanes.
"It took approximately two seconds to get through it.
"It was so think you couldn't see the light of the vehicles in front of you."
LUKE Allen said he noticed a “wall of white, misty fog” on the motorway, which he likened to a “white curtain”.
LORRY driver John Krostovnikiff drove north on the M5 past Junction 25 about an hour before the accident.
He said: "There was only a little bit of reduced visibility around Taunton Deane Services."
But just after Junction 25, he noticed "a thick wall of fog, white or dark grey".
"I was in and out in two seconds, but you couldn't see through it - afterwards visibility ws clear," said Mr Krostovnikiff.
STEPHEN Greensill, who had driven down from the Midlands, said conditions from Bristol onwards were “damp, drizzly and misty”, causing drivers to slow down, although there was “quite good visibility”.
Referring to the approach to Junction 25, Mr Greensill said: “I didn’t notice any reduced visibility. It was a bit more foggy, but I could see teh fireworks quite clearly.
“I didn’t notice any think smoke coming from the fireworks across the motorway.”
A NUMBER of witnesses described the conditions when they drove past Junction 25 in the minutes leading up to the accident.
Van driver Ian Thorne, who was travelling south, said he noticed a fireworks display around 400 metres before the junction.
He said: “I could see the smoke it was giving off...there was reduced visibility when I got closer.
“The smoke was white. I could see all the way through it.”
After driving to the back of the Sainsbury’s store at Hankridge, Mr Thorne was told by a colleague there had been an accident on the motorway.
“He shone his torch up onto the motorway and you could see all the vehicles parked up and the emergency services going past,” said Mr Thorne.
KYE Thomas, 38, of Gunnislake, Cornwall, was driving an articulated lorry.
The cause of his death was given as unascertained.
LORRY driver Terry Brice, 55, from South Gloucestershire, was alive when his vehicle caught fire.
He died from inhalation of products of combustion and severe burns.
MALCOLM Beacham, 47, of Woolavington, died before the fire due to a head injury.
MICHAEL Barton, 67, of Windsor, managed to get out of his car but collapsed and died shortly afterwards on the hard shoulder.
He died due to a number of servere injuries.
His daughter Maggie, 23, also from Windsor, was rendered unconscious by her injuries.
The cause of her death was neck, chest and abdominal inuries.
TONY and Pamela Adams, 73 and 70, were on their way home to Newport when their car was involved in one of the collisions.
Post mortem tests later showed that they died before their car was engulfed in flames.
But it was impossible to ascertain the actual cause of death in either case.
THERE were three sets of collisions leading up to the M5 crash at Taunton which claimed seven lives, an inquest heard.
West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose resumed the hearing at the county town’s Shire Hall this morning (Monday) with details of the horrific incident just past Junction 25 of the M5 northbound at 8.21pm on November 4, 2011.
Mr Rose said that a further 51 people were injured, many of them seriously with what were at the time described as life threatening.
He said that there were three separate sets of collisions caused by drivers entering an area of reduced visibility and, as a consequence, becoming disorientated.
Fires which subsequently followed hindered the rescue services and led to at least one of the deaths, Mr Rose said.
A FULL inquest into the deaths of seven people who were killed in a horrific pile-up on the M5 near Taunton in November 2011 started today (March 31).
West Somerset Coroner Michel Rose conducted the hearing into the deaths of Tony and Pamela adams, 73 and 70, of Newport, lorry drivers Terry Brice, 55, of Bristol, and Kye Thomas, 38, of Gunnislake, Cornwall, Michael Bartin, 67, and his daughter, Maggie, 23, of Berkshire, and gas supply worker Malcolm Beacham, of Woolavington, near Bridgwater.
They all died in the 37-vehicle pile-up in which 51 people were also injured travelling northwards just past junction 25.
We will have live coverage of the inquest, which could run for two weeks.
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