Plympton biker died in head on collision after misjudging overtake

A Plymouth motorcyclist died after colliding head on with a car having misjudged an overtake, an inquest has heard. Christopher Snape was riding his silver Triumph Street Triple RX motorcycle when the incident happened on a two-lane road linking Plympton Lane and Deep Lane beside the A38 at Plympton. Plymouth Coroner’s Court was told how Mr Snape, of Plympton, was overtaking a breakdown truck when he collided head on with an oncoming Ford Focus in the late afternoon of January 6 this year. This is why we report inquests.

Police, fire crews, two ambulances and the air ambulance all attended the scene, where married sales engineer Mr Snape was confirmed deceased by medics. Dr Anthony Kehoe, a consultant in emergency medicine at Derriford Hospital, concluded that Mr Snape died as a result of multiple injuries consistent with a road traffic collision. Jonathan Caunt, the man who was driving the recovery truck, said in a statement that he was driving at around 40mph when he heard a bike rev up and start to overtake him.

“We were going over the crest of the hill and I saw a dark coloured Ford Focus coming,” said Mr Caunt. “The bike continued to try to overtake and hit the Ford head on. There was a big bang and I went to get my fire extinguisher.”

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Another eyewitness said: “As soon as I heard the bike accelerate and conduct the overtake, my thought was, ‘What’s this guy doing’? At that point I saw the oncoming vehicle’s headlights.

The bike was parallel to the recovery truck and it was clear the bike had nowhere to go to avoid the oncoming vehicle.” The woman who was driving the Ford Focus said she was discussing with her daughter what they would have for dinner when suddenly she became aware of a light approaching on her side of the road. “My initial thought was, ‘What the hell is that’,” she said. “I realised it was a vehicle of some sort.

The lorry was beside me and I had nowhere to move my vehicle to avoid the oncoming vehicle. The collision was unavoidable, in a split second the vehicle collided with the front of my car.” Motor patrol constable Phil Rooks, who investigates serious collisions, said the bike had made a deliberate attempt to overtake the recovery truck, and “clearly misjudged forward visibility”.

Neither the quality of the road, the weather or the condition of the bike contributed to the collision, he added. Ian Arrow, senior coroner for Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon, concluded that Mr Snape died as a result of a road traffic collision. “Sadly I come to the conclusion that he was the rider of a motorcycle, that he intended to overtake a recovery lorry on the link road between Plympton Hill and Deep Lane.

“Sadly in trying to affect an overtake, he has driven into collision with an oncoming car.

That collision has sadly led to his death.”

Mr Arrow conveyed his condolences to Mr Snape’s family.

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