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Fatal Accident Inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Mr Francis Goodwin [2010] FAI 42


Fatal Accident Inquiry:- Having heard evidence and submissions, the Sheriff made a determination under the terms of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Death Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976, which contained no recommendations. The Sheriff found that in terms of section 6(1)(a) of the 1976 Act, that Mr Francis Goodwin, died at 0500 on 27 July 2005 at Western Infirmary, Glasgow, as a result of road traffic accident, which occurred at around 0420 on the same date. The cause of death was a chest injury sustained as a result of the road traffic accident, and this accident was caused by the careless driving of Mr Sean Crangle.

The Sheriff noted that three vehicles were involved in the road traffic accident: the Royal Mail van driven by the deceased, an ambulance driven by Mr Sean Crangle, and a tanker.

At the time of the accident, Mr Crangle was responding to an emergency response call, and was driving with blue lights flashing, but no siren. At red traffic lights, Mr Crangle proceeded through a junction, and saw a tanker coming from his right. Despite believing this to be the only vehicle on the road, he subsequently saw the lights of a Royal Mail van being driven by the deceased on the far side of the tanker. The ambulance hit the Royal Mail van, causing it to hit the kerb of the central reservation. This impact knocked the Royal Mail van towards the tanker, and hit the tanker twice on the driver's side, before bouncing off again, and coming to rest against the kerb. During this period, eyewitnesses could see the deceased being violently thrown about inside his vehicle. Following the accident, Mr Crangle was subsequently charged with a contravention of section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (careless driving) and pled guilty to that charge as amended.

The Sheriff heard evidence on the use of seatbelts by the Royal Mail, and was satisfied that the outcome of the accident would not have been any different had the deceased been wearing a seatbelt. Furthermore, the Sheriff heard evidence about the driving training available to Mr Crangle as an ambulance driver, coming to the conclusion that further training would not have influenced the outcome of the accident. The Sheriff found it was clear that Mr Crangle did not follow the applicable guidance on driving through red lights, and had proceeded to enter a junction where, because of restricted visibility and the speed of his approach, he had no chance of stopping when he realized that the junction was not safe to cross.

The Sheriff concluded that there was no evidence to suggest a different training system or a different instruction about either red lights or warning signs would have prevented this accident.