Fatal crash driver may have been blinded by sun

Reporter:

Josh Morris

The driver of a van which crashed head on with another vehicle on the A5104 may have veered across the road because he was temporarily blinded by the sun.

Michael Marriott, 68, from Bala, died after crashing his Nissan van head-on into a Citroen C3 on March 16, 2016. According to assistant coroner Nicola Jones, the driver of the Citroen Darren Williams received “life changing” injuries.

Police investigators told the coroner’s court that the angle of the sun may have shone directly into the eyes of Mr Marriott as he navigated a bend on the A5104 near Bryneglwys as he veered across the centre of the road into the path of Darren Williams's Citroen.

The evidence of his son, who was also travelling in the Nissan stated that he had not put his sun visor down and was not wearing sunglasses. 

However, the coroner says she could not rule out Mr Marriott may have instead had a temporary loss of concentration.

His son, Jesus Michael Marriott said: “We'd been out to get an alternator and called in Wrexham for noodles.

“We headed towards Corwen, this was the road we travel on regularly.

“The road was dry with the sun in our eyes at the time. Dad was wearing his normal glasses and the sun visor wasn't down.

“There was nothing interesting about the journey, the van is old and doesn't go very fast

“The stereo wasn't on as the radio works badly. I had my phone on my knee looking at Facebook for most of the journey.

He then described the moment of the crash.

He continued: “My phone flew from my hands. I looked down and my right foot was bent backwards. I gave it a yank and it was painful but got free

“I tried to talk to him but he was just groaning. It was a proper mess.

“There was steam coming from the van, there was a man in the driver seat of the other car, and a man in the passenger seat who had got out.

“I remember the helicopter landing and cutting dad out of the car. I was last away, my sister rang from Stoke to tell me my father had passed away.”

Mr Marriott was taken by air ambulance to Royal Stoke University Hospital. His heart stopped during the journey and doctors unable to revive him.

The road itself was described by Highways to be in poor condition, however, according to police collision investigators, it was within acceptable limits for braking. 

Both drivers were within the 50 mph speed limit. However Mr Williams had just moments to react as he saw the red Nissan van approaching.

Recording a verdict of death caused by road traffic collision, Assistant Coroner for North East Wales, Nicola Jones said: “What comes out of evidence given, which is corroborated by the marks on the road at the scene, is that it is clear that Mr Marriott was in the incorrect lane.

“This bears out the evidence of Darren Williams and his passenger Cory Williams. As a result of Mr Marriott entering incorrect lane, they collided.

“Darren Williams had no time to take evasive action or break soon enough to avoid a collision of enormous impact which resulted in fatal injuries,

“We are left with the question as to why Mr Marriott was on the wrong side of the road. 

“Police Collision Investigator Gavin Davies has two possible reasons.

“One of which was a temporary loss of concentration but there is no evidence concerning this as Jesus Marriott was on his phone and not able to give any information about his father's state prior to the crash.

“The other possibility, was that on that bend Mr Marriott was temporarily blinded by the sun as another driver that day had been. The other driver says he slowed down to 35mph and put his visor down.

“Mr Marriott's visor wasn't down and it was likely the sun was at a point where it would have been shining directly into his face, but we don't know which of these two causes it would be.”

See full story in the Free Press

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