Inquest verdict on visiting motorcyclist

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The death of a first-time visitor to last year’s Manx Grand Prix when he ran off the Creg-ny-Baa Back Road was an accident, an inquest has ruled.

John Greenwell, who was 58 and came from Oxfordshire, may have lain undiscovered in a ditch at the side of the road for up to an hour as his friends tried to contact him before retracing their route to search for him.

Mr Greenwell, who had worked as a technician on Formula 1 racing cars and was also a driving instructor and HGV driver, was with four friends heading to the grandstand after visiting the Laxey Wheel on August 28.

The court heard when Mr Greenwell failed to show up at the Grandstand, the group became concerned he may have had an accident or broken down so they rode back along the Creg-ny-Baa Back Road.

Mr Greenwell’s friend Robert Bryant spotted him in a ditch near to his bike by the Honey Hill green lane. Efforts at the scene to revive him failed and a report from pathologist Dr Christopher Clague found Mr Greenwell died from massive blunt force trauma, principally to his chest.

The court heard there had been two accidents at that location in April 2014 and a third in May 2014, and a chevron sign indicating the bend, which had been destroyed in the first accident had never been replaced. However there was a triangular warning sign alerting drivers approaching the bend.

The missing warning sign had been reported to the Department of Infrastructure but no effective action was taken to replace it.

The court also heard the road surface was good and Mr Greenwell was an experienced and careful rider who was one of the slower members of the group.

Recording his verdict, coroner John Needham said: ‘The crash occurred when he failed to negotiate a right hand bend by Honey Hill on the Creg-ny-Baa Back Road.

‘There were no witnesses to the collision. From the facts, speed does not seem to have been a major contributory factor and it may never fully be known what actually occurred. There is no evidence to suggest any other vehicle was involved.’

Mr Needham noted the missing chevron sign but also pointed out there was a warning triangular sign on the approach to the bend. However, he said the spate of accidents at that location suggested other drivers had also been caught out. He noted signs had now been reinstated.

‘In my view the sign should have been replaced immediately or as soon as possible. I’m not in a position to say that if they had been there Mr Greenwell would not have crashed but it may have caused him to brake earlier,’ he said.

Mr Needham said he would be writing to the DoI Minister and to the Chief Constable about procedures for ensuring road signs are replaced and maintained. He offered his condolences to Mr Greenwell’s friends and family.

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