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Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Death of Keiran Ramsay, Sheriff Alasdair Lorne MacFadyen, Dingwall Sheriff Court, 10th March 2011


In terms of section 6(1)(a) of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976, the sheriff found that Keiran Ramsay died at 00.10 hours on Sunday 17 January 2010 on the B9161 Munlochy to Artafallie Road near Bogallan, Ross and Cromarty, when the motor vehicle being driven by him left the road and collided with a tree. In terms of section 6(1)(b), the cause of death was non-survivable head injuries sustained in that collision. Formal determinations were made under section 6(1)(c), (d) and (e).
Kieran was a final year apprentice mechanic who was travelling to attend a call-out in the course of his employment when he died. He was travelling in a Volkswagen van in southerly direction along the B9161, in the Black Isle. The road, which is in the Highland Council's area of geographical responsibility, was treacherous as a result of surface ice. On the 15th January 2010, salt was applied to the B9161 to a salination level of 3, being the maximum amount of salt ever considered necessary. As there was no further rainfall in the area on 16th January, no further salting was carried out prior to the accident.
The national speed limit for cars for the B9161 was 60 mph and for vehicles such as Kieran's van was 50 mph. At Bogallan, the van negotiated a left hand bend at a speed of no less than 66mph and then entered a straight section of road. During that manoeuvre the deceased lost control of the van, which then left the road and collided with a tree.
Under s.6(1)(c) the sheriff found that the accident might have been avoided if the deceased had driven at a much lower speed given the prevailing icy road conditions which must have been obvious to an observant and careful driver. Under s.6(1)(d) it was held that, although ice was present on the road, there were no defects in Highland Council's system of gritting/salination which contributed to the death. Finally, under s.6(1)(e) the sheriff noted that the deceased was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. However, given the extent and nature of the damage caused to the driver's seat area by the collision, the use of a seatbelt by the deceased would not have made any difference to the outcome of the accident.