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Canadian road tragedy was 'unexplained accident' says coroner
THE grieving Bewdley mother of a truck driver who died in an "unexplained" crash in Canada was still looking for answers after a coroner ruled it was likely her son fell asleep at the wheel.
Brett Colley, 45, died while working as an HGV driver after his lorry crashed in Canada on November 13, 2012, in -15C conditions described by British Colombia Coroner Nola Currie as "treacherous". The married father of one had moved to North America from Bewdley in 2011.
Worcestershire coroner Geraint Williams, at an inquest in Stourport on Thursday last week, recorded the death as an accident.
He apologised to Mr Colley's mother Rita saying he was unable to provide the family with answers to many of their questions as Canadian authorities had only supplied him with post-mortem results and Ms Currie's report. He added if the incident had happened in the UK he would have been able to summon Mr Colley's co-driver to give evidence in court.
He said lorry drivers in Canada were not required to carry a tacograph, as in the EU, which would have shown how long Mr Colley was driving for and whether he was supposed to be driving. It is also unknown whether or not the co-driver - who suffered non-life threatening injuries - was sleeping.
Addressing Mrs Colley, Mr Williams said: "I am afraid I cannot answer the questions you would like me to answer. I am very sorry it has taken this long and I have not been able to get you the answers you want."
A report by Ms Currie, read out in court by Mr Williams, said Mr Colley was driving north in full day light on a straight section of Highway 97, in the Pink Mountain region on a "particularly difficult" route - although one the H and R Transport employee was familiar with.
The vehicle drifted off the road into a ditch and turned on its side, filling the passenger compartment, where Mr Colley ended up, with snow. The report said he was not wearing a seatbelt - although family members at the hearing, including Mrs Colley, said there was "no way" the professional driver would not wear one.
Mr Williams said: "I am faced with an unexplained leaving of the carriageway. The most likely thing was he was tired and fell asleep. The report says he gradually went off the road, he was an experienced, professional driver so would obviously not have let that happen."
Summing up he said: "It is more likely than not Mr Colley was tired and he began to fall asleep and the truck drifted off the carriageway causing the accident and the injuries that killed him. He clearly did not do it deliberately. My conclusion is he died as a result of an accident."
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