Black ice on an ungritted road caused the death of a young Doncaster driver when he smashed into an oncoming lorry an inquest was told yesterday.
Cieran Morshead, 22, died when his newspaper delivery van collided with a lorry on the A630 at Hooton Roberts last autumn.
The impact was so violent it caused the Ford Transit to be lifted off the ground and the engine shot out of the van, coming to rest in a field.
A passing motorist tried to give first aid but found no sign of breathing or a pulse.
Mr Morshead, of Cranfield Close, Armthorpe, who also worked as manager of the Shooters bar on Silver Street, was driving along the centre lane of the road from Hooton Roberts towards Conisbrough when he lost control and collided with the lorry at 7.20am on November 4.
The Rotherham inquest was told ambulance and police cars also skidded on the black ice in the middle lane and one police car slid along the road after it was parked with the handbrake on.
The road temperature at that time was below zero but Rotherham Council had not gritted the previous night because frost was not forecast.
Lorry driver Melvyn Maughan told the inquest: “I just saw a van coming fast. I just braked and tried to get out of his path. I tried to get out of the way.”
The computer on Mr Maughan’s dashboard warned of icy conditions and gave an air temperature of minus 2C and he said ‘a lot of people were slipping all over the place’.
PC Stephen Stott, one of the first police officers on the scene, said: “We parked slightly behind and as I got out I slipped and fell back in the car because the road was so icy. It was like glass, quite a few people had problems standing up.”
PC Paul Greaves said he also slipped on the road and then saw another police vehicle ‘come round in an arc and crashed into Pc Stott’s car. There was nobody in and it had the handbrake on’.
Collision investigator Ged Barton said he took temperature readings from the road surface of minus 0.3C and skid tests showed its grippiness had been reduced.
Neither driver had consumed alcohol and the lorry was travelling well below the speed limit.
PC Barton said: “I can only attribute the collision to the icy conditions in lane two. Had that not been the case Cieran would have carried on and made his way home.”
He said the tall hedgerows on either side may have created a ‘microclimate’ in the centre lane because the other two lanes were not iced over.
The inquest heard the weather forecast received by Rotherham Council the previous day had made no mention of ice or a hard frost so the decision was taken not to salt the borough’s roads.
Coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a verdict of accidental death and said it was ‘extremely tragic’ for Cieran the temperature had dropped below what had been expected and caused the black ice to form.