A PREGNANT woman died when the motorbike she was riding on with her husband crashed in an unlucky set of circumstances, an inquest heard today (Wednesday, July 31).

Alison Reay was seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she died last November after her husband David lost control of the motorbike, which then collided with a traffic island.

The couple, of Stanley, were overtaking a milk tanker on the A688, near junction 61 of the A1(M) at Bowburn, near Durham City, at about 7.35pm when the accident happened.

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An inquest in Crook heard there was nothing to suggest Mr Reay, who is an experienced motorcyclist, was riding in an inappropriate manner.

However, a police collision investigation found evidence to suggest he saw an upcoming traffic island late and probably lost control of the bike, which then collided with the sign and an oncoming Iveco van.

Mrs Reay, 39, who was a pillion passenger, collided with the milk tanker, suffering fatal injuries.

PC Gary Ward, of Durham Police, visited the scene on two occasions following the accident and said he was surprised at how difficult it was to spot the island.

“I have no doubt in my mind it would have been easy to misjudge that island and find himself in that situation,” he said.

Retired police officer Ian Hague, who was in Durham Police’s collision investigation unit at the time, added: “Any attempts to divert could have caused motorcycle to lose control.”

Scuff marks were found on the milk tanker.

The tanker driver Joseph Dodd told the inquest he witnessed the accident in his mirror but did not stop at the scene because he did not realise he was involved and thought his vehicle would be a hindrance to the emergency services.

He did, however, stop to gesture to a motorcycle parked further along the road ridden by Mrs Reay’s daughter Danielle and her fiancé that they should go back.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, County Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle said he thought the traffic island had caught Mr Reay out.

He said the grit and dirt on the road surface, position of the tanker and oncoming vehicles, together with the location of the traffic island had happened at the wrong time together.

“There was no intention for this to happen,” he added. “If the lorry had not been there perhaps we would have been looking at serious injuries not a fatal accident.

“All these things conspired together to lead to Alison’s death.”