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Burger sign led to death
10:00am Wednesday 16th January 2013 in News
A Malmesbury burger van owner died after he walked into the path of a motorcycle while putting out the sign for his van.
An inquest in Salisbury heard that Gordon John Woodward, of Cowbridge Crescent, had parked his van in a layby on the A429 Malmesbury bypass for some years.
His partner, Shirley Hirst, said in a statement that he enjoyed having the catering van and meeting people.
She said: “He had regular visitors who would stop and use his burger van. A few days before he died he said people were glad his van was there because they were hungry but sometimes they missed him because the sign was almost on top of his van. This might have been on his mind and he moved the sign further down the road.”
Mr Woodward, 68, who was also known as Johnny, died on July 20 last year at about 8.25am.
The inquest, on Tuesday, heard that motorists travelling along the A429 saw Mr Woodward on the opposite side of the road to his van, where he had put his sign on the verge.
The motorcyclist, Christopher Wastell of Reybridge, Lacock, said he saw him standing on the grass verge on his side of the road and said Mr Woodward was looking towards him. He said Mr Woodward was wearing glasses.
Mr Wastell, 52, said he was travelling between 50 and 55mph – the road has a 60mph speed limit – and had his headlight on dipped beam. He said it did not seem that he was going to cross the road but the next thing he saw was Mr Woodward directly in front of him and they collided, throwing Mr Wastell off his motorcycle.
Mr Woodward suffered multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, while Mr Wastell was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital, Bristol. A breath test carried out on Mr Wastell was negative and there were no drugs or alcohol in Mr Woodward’s body.
Motorist Emmanual Bennett, of Stoke Gifford, near Bristol, was travelling to work in Malmesbury and witnessed the crash.
He said: “The motorcyclist seemed to be doing a normal speed and driving in a straight line. There was no time for him to react.”
Police said the Moto Guzzi motorcycle had no defects.
PC James Trafford, who investigated the collision, said: “Mr Woodward either misjudged the time he had to cross the road or perhaps more likely simply didn’t see the motorcycle.”
Wiltshire assistant deputy coroner Ian Singleton recorded a verdict of accidental death.