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Motorcyclist died during overtaking manouvre on A68 between West Auckland and Etherley
AN experienced motorcyclist who died in an accident may have tried to accelerate his way out of trouble, an inquest was told.
Father-of-two Leslie Ballard suffered multiple injuries after hitting a telegraph pole on a stretch of the A68 between West Auckland and Etherley on April 19 last year.
An inquest heard that the 48-year-old tried to overtake a Vauxhall Zafira, which in turn had pulled out to overtake a Citroen Saxo.
It was raining heavily when Mr Ballard, of Barrington Meadows, Bishop Auckland, pulled out from behind a line of four cars as they left the 30mph zone outside West Auckland.
Witness Alan Hutchinson, from Frosterley, Weardale, said he was at the back of the line of cars and saw the Zafira driver indicate and pull out to overtake the Saxo.
“Then I saw the motorbike behind me indicate to pull out. I saw the bike going past me as the Zafira was pulling out.
“The bike was trapped between the Zafira and the kerb. I saw the bike have a slight collision with the Zafira, but not enough to knock him off. It caused him to swerve to the right, into contact with quite a high kerb.”
He added that he would not describe Mr Ballard's manoevre as reckless.
Zafira driver Paul Massey, who was driving to his home near Hexham, said the first he was aware of Mr Ballard was the noise of the slight collision.
He said he had checked both his rear mirror and driver's side mirror before indicating and pulling out.
PC Kevin Kitson, of Durham Police's collision investigation unit, said Mr Ballard was still on his motorcycle when it hit a telegraph pole and then came off, only to hit a second telegraph pole, which caused the fatal injuries.
He added that both Mr Ballard's motorcycle and his helmet were in excellent condition.
Mr Ballard's widow Debbie told the Crook inquest that her husband was a very experienced driver who took safety extremely seriously.
“He used to say when you are on a bike look well ahead and plan a way out.”
She said had her husband realised what was happening, he would not have braked but would have accelerated in an attempt to avoid the car.
Coroner Andrew Tweddle said it was impossible to say exactly what had happened.
“There was some element of misjudgement which led to fatal and tragic consequences. There is nothing to suggest it was anybody's fault.
He recorded a verdict of accidental death.