Tue, 13 Sept 2016
A MAN killed while crossing the A4 after spending the afternoon at a Newbury pub had narrowly avoided being hit by another car seconds earlier, an inquest heard.
Witnesses described their shock as Philip Cheek, of Creswell Road, Newbury, continued to walk across the road, seemingly unfazed by the incident, before he was fatally struck by a Mini Cooper in the eastbound lane.
The 55-year-old was making his way home following an afternoon drinking with his wife and friends in the Narrow Boat pub, London Road, when he was hit at around 7.30pm on Saturday, February 13.
The incident occurred close to the junction with Dorneywood Lane.
Mr Cheek died at the scene.
A toxicology test during the post mortem examination showed Mr Cheek to be more than twice the legal drink drive limit.
Witnesses told the inquest at Reading Town Hall on Wednesday last week how Mr Cheek, who had been dressed in dark clothes, was walking slowly across the dimly-lit road in what were described as miserable conditions.
In a statement read out at the inquest, motorist Michael Inglut described how he had to swerve his Range Rover in order to miss Mr Cheek, as he travelled toward Newbury.
Mr Inglut added: “In the course of this he did not flinch.
“He was looking down, not left or right – not looking where he was going.
“He was not walking like he was drunk, he was walking like he didn’t have a care in the world.”
He described seeing the brake lights of a Mini in his wing mirror seconds later, travelling in the opposite direction, as the car struck Mr Cheek.
A police investigation apportioned no blame to the driver of the Mini Cooper, which had been travelling at the speed limit with its headlights on.
Investigators did, however, point to the uneven street lighting along the A4, with some lights having been upgraded to LEDs and others still the traditional sodium lamps.
The area where the collision occurred was beneath an old-style street lamp, which investigators said could have made it more difficult for motorists to spot Mr Cheek.
Senior coroner for Berkshire Peter Bedford concluded that a number of factors were to blame for Mr Cheek’s death.
He said: “Many of the witnesses comment how the streetlights seem to be quite far apart and some brighter than others.
“Either side of the scene there are two brighter lights (LEDs) which could contribute to a darker patch around the crucial area.
“We heard from Mr Inglut, who had to take evasive action to avoid Mr Cheek.
“According to the witness, he appeared to be oblivious to the approaching Range Rover, which was clearly visible with its headlights on.
“Other witnesses say the surprising thing is, not only did he appear indifferent to them, walking with his head down, but he continued into the adjoining lane.
“They also take the view it was inevitable there was going to be a collision.
“The driver of the Mini was put in an impossible position and there was nothing she could have done to avoid the collision.
“It was nighttime, it was raining and a number of witnesses explained how miserable the weather was.
“All of these factors would have played a part.”
The official verdict recorded by the coroner was that Mr Cheek’s death was the result of a road traffic collision.