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2:44pm Thursday 28th February 2013 in Worcester
By Catherine Phillips, Reporter
The scene of the crash on the A449
THE driver of a car who died after he swerved into the path of a lorry had written a number of suicide notes, an inquest was told. Alex Martin was driving his red Peugeot on the A449 between Malvern and Worcester when he hit a HGV travelling in the opposite direction.
It was only thanks to the quick-thinking actions of the lorry driverthat more vehicles were not involved in the crash, the inquest was told. Suicide notes were found in the car and the inquest was told Mr Martin had on a previous occasion made superficial cuts to his neck and abdomen and had taken an overdose of sleeping tablets on November 14.
Yesterday Worcestershire coroner Geraint Williams carefully considered whether it was suicide, but eventually he recorded an open verdict because he could not be “absolutely sure” that Mr Martin had meant to take his own life when he swerved into the oncoming lorry.
Witnesses told the inquest the 27-year-old care worker “lurched” into the path of the lorry and then straightened up moments before the fatal collision at Newlands. Lorry driver Anthony Smallman told Worcestershire Coroner’s Court he had glanced at his offside mirror and near side mirror and as he turned his head back to the road he saw a red object in front of him.
Paul Grindley, who had been travelling in a car behind Mr Martin’s Peugeot, said it swerved into the opposite lane. He praised the lorry driver for his quick actions. “The car just swerved into the opposite lane and Mr Smallman wouldn’t have had a chance to brake, it was very quick,” said Mr Grindley.
“The car was then thrown forward on its roof and I was worried the lorry would come towards me but it then jerked to its right and landed on the embankment. “It was lightning reflexes from Mr Smallman which managed to pull it into a ditch, I don’t know how he managed to do that.”
Mr Smallman said he could not remember anything after hitting the brakes. “That’s all I can really remember until someone started shouting, ‘Is there anyone in there?’ and I was still in the cab.”
A post-mortem test showed Mr Martin, of Belle Vue Terrace, Malvern, died from his injuries. He had not been under the influence of drink or drugs. Therapeutic levels of the anti-depressant Setraline were found in his blood.
Joanna Greenway, from the mental health liaison team, had seen Mr Martin the day after he was taken to A&E, when he told her he hadn’t wanted to take his life.
He told her he had taken the pills to get to sleep following an argument with his ex-girlfriend and wanted to wake up in a better mood.
She did not believe he was suffering from an acute episode of depression and had showed signs of focusing on a future without his partner, so he was discharged.