A delivery driver killed in a crash in County Durham last summer may have “fallen asleep” at the wheel, an inquest heard.

Gary Robert Turley, 58, from Stockton, died in a crash between Stanhope and Eastgate on the A689 on August 8, 2022.

An inquest in Crook held on Wednesday heard Mr Turley was driving east on the A689 toward Stanhope at 7.30am when he collided “side-on” with an LGV lorry travelling west toward Eastgate.

Read more: Tributes paid to 'big friendly giant' who died in crash on A689 in County Durham

Mr Turley, who was in a van, suffered head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Carl Lee, forensic collision investigator with Durham Police, said the collision left the LGV lorry on its side in the road.

Mr Lee said: “Gary drifted into the other lane of the narrow road.

“The speed was declining as if he took his foot off the accelerator slightly, but we can’t give a definitive reason as to why Gary crossed over to the other side of the road, it’s possible he was distracted or fell asleep.”

The road was closed for several hours following the incident to allow investigators to work at the scene.

Read more: Man jailed for spate of drink and drug-fuelled offences in County Durham village

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In a toxicology report, it was found that there was no evidence that Mr Turley was intoxicated through alcohol or drugs at the time of death or had taken an excess dose of alcohol or drugs recently.

No environmental factors, including weather, or a medical event as per the post-mortem, were thought to have contributed to the crash.

Tributes from Mr Turley’s family at the time of his death described him as a “big friendly giant.”

James Thompson, assistant coroner for County Durham and Darlington, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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He said: “Gary’s mobile phone had not been used in the time leading up the crash.

“No mechanical defects were found in the van that could have contributed to the incident, and the vehicle was deemed not causative.

“The collision occurred when Gary’s van crossed into the oncoming lane and crashed with the LGV.

“Having reviewed all the evidence during this investigation, I am unable to provide a definitive conclusion as to why Gary crossed over into the oncoming lane.”