LiveM5 crash inquests: Day two from Shire Hall in Taunton

First published in Somerset
Last updated

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  • Seven people died on night of November 4, 2011.
  • Pile-up on M5 northbound left 51 injured.
  • Legal proceedings against fireworks boss thrown out by judge in December.
  • Coroner resumed inquest on Monday and could last for two weeks.


FOR updates from day three, click here.


THE inquest at Shire Hall resumes tomorrow (Wednesday), when evidence will be heard about the fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club.


STATEMENTS from most of the survivors involved in the pile-up were read to the court.

Many said they suddenly hit a wall of thick fog or smoke and could not see anything.

One driver said the car in front suddenly braked and was hit several times “like a pinball in a pinball machine”.

Mark Olds said he got out of his car after he hit another vehicle and as he got back in to drive onto the hard shoulder he heard several explosions.

David Thompson said: “There was suddenly a series of rapid collisions – although I couldn’t see anything. I saw a white car in front of me facing the wrong direction.”

Roger Nino said: “I saw the brake lights of the lorry in front of me come on...I went into emergency braking. Somehow I managed to stop 10ft from the back of the lorry.

“I heard the sound of further collisions behind me.

“I saw another car with a male driver slumped inside unconscious and a female passenger coming round.”

Laura Kitchen said: “I simply lost all visibility. I hit an object on the road. I have no idea what I hit.”

Another motorist said he heard the sound of vehicles crashing ahead and stopped to see the devastation, which looked like a “scrapyard”.

His vehicle was shaken violently as further impacts occurred.

Chris Burbull was driving his fiancée Emma Barton and her father, Michael, and sister, Maggie, from Penzance to Windsor – the last two died as a result of the accident.

He said: “The visibility was really bad – I felt like I was driving blind.

“There was something in front of me I couldn’t avoid.”

Emma, who was seriously injured, said she has no memory of the accident, but she recalls that is was foggy.


Mr Davey told the inquest that a fireworks display was held at Taunton Rugby Club, from 8pm to 8.15pm on the evening of the crash.

The event, attended by up to 1,300 people, was staged on the halfway line opposite the main stand.

The display was about 205 metres from the front of the first damaged vehicle, which crashed at 8.21pm, the court was told.


Elaine Adams, daughter of Tony and Pamela Adams, said during a break in proceedings that she had mixed emotions attending the court hearing.

"There's a lot more coming out than did at the trial - information we feel should have been produced at the trial," she said.

"I need this inquest for me. I need the answers. I need to know for me.

"It's almost as if we're there with our parents."

Miss Adams added: "Hearing some of the evidence, I had to bite hard.

"Reading it before the inquest I was thinking I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

"The hearing is emotional and hard going, but it's something I need to do."


THE Ford Fiesta Michael Barton and his daughter Maggie were passengers in became wedged under a trailed of a lorry that had jack-knifed across the carriageway in front of them.

The Skoda Fabia Tony Adams was driving his wife Pamela home to Newport in after visting family in Taunton was wedged under the trailer of a Sainsbury's goods vehicle. The vehicle was extensively damaged and then destroyed in an ensuing fire.

The cab of the articulated lorry driven by Kye Thomas became embedded in and under the Sainsbury's vehicle.

Terry Brice was a passenger was travelling in an articulated goods vehicle belonging to Ginsters that was destroyed by fire. The court heard that "the majority of the damage was caused by fire rather than impact".

Malcolm Beacham's Renault Scenic became embedded in the rear of the Ginsters' lorry, causing massive front end damage before it was largely destroyed by fire.


THE inquest heard from police collision investigator Peter Davey, who attended the scene on the evening of the accident, Friday, November 11, 2011, and also the following two days.

In his report, Mr Davey, who is no longer in the police force, said: "Visibility was seriously reduced due to smoke from a nearby fireworks display and fog."

He said vehicles began to slam into each other "without any warning" from 8.21pm.

A total of 34 vehicles were involved in the incident, with 13 of them "significantly fire damaged" and that section of the M5 closed throughout the weekend.


TODAY'S hearing gets underway at 10.30am.

West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose will hear evidence from collision investigators.

It follows yesterday's appearance by a number of witnesses who drove past the scene of the accident shortly before the massive pile-up.


Chard & Ilminster News: The scene the morning after the fatal M5 crash

AN inquest into the deaths of seven people killed in a horrific pile-up on the M5 near Taunton in November 2011 continues today (April 1).

West Somerset Coroner Michel Rose will continue 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 Barton, 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.

For updates from day one, click here.


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