Heathfield man suffers heart attack at the wheel

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AN 89-year-old Heathfield man had a heart attack at the wheel of his sports car and crashed into a car coming the other way on November 1 last year.

At Thursday’s Eastbourne inquest, witnesses told East Sussex Coroner Alan Craze that emergency services were called immediately but ambulances took about an hour to arrive. They were told the ambulance station was changing crews.

Driver Anthony Riley Hinson of Back Lane was taken to the EDGH with what were thought to be minor injuries but died a day later.

Mr Craze read a report from pathologist Dr Hassan El Teraifi which described bruising, a broken rib and breast bone. There was also evidence of a recent blood clot and a 95cent narrowing of three coronary arteries. He said the death resulted from thrombosis and severe arterioclerosis.

East Sussex coroner Alan Craze read a report from Mr Hinson’s GP, Dr Marc van Zutphen from Heathfield’s Firs Surgery. It described how Mr Hinson was rarely in the surgery. He was healthy and active for his age but had suffered shortness of breath while on holiday in Martinique in March 2011. Doctors referred him for cardiology tests in the UK but he declined to attend.

Stephen Mountford, a plumber from Five Ashes, was driving his blue BMW home northwards along the A267 at about 6pm in heavy rush-hour traffic. He said: “I came round a slight right-hand bend when I saw a black BMW Z4 convertible come off the apex of the road. I thought I had missed him but he hit the side of my car. My car was badly damaged and I had to get out of the back seat. His car went into the hedge. I helped the emergency services for a couple of hours.”

Insurance underwriter Jeremy Patrick Smith from Firwood Rise, Heathfield was driving behind Mr Hinson’s car from Maresfield.

He told the inquest: “I followed it from the Maresfield roundabout when it stopped at the crossroads then started again. It turned left for Buxted and stopped. I thought, this is someone who’s completely lost. The car paused on the A272 in the middle of Hadlow Down, started again then turned right onto the A267 towards Heathfield. Several cars passed before I could turn out. When I did, I drove round the bend and saw the road covered with smoke.”

PC Donna Fleming was first on the scene and saw the black BMW embedded in shrubbery on the side of the road. She said: “There was a male sitting in a wicker conservatory-style chair in a driveway with his head supported by a member of the public. It appeared his wife had been asleep in the passenger seat. She was lying on the ground covered with a blanket and people living nearby were attending to them both. Mr Hinson became agitated and asked: ‘Where is my wife?’”

Mr Hinson was conscious and it was thought that the couple had only suffered from minor injuries. Mr Mountford confirmed the ambulance took about an hour to arrive. Eventually two came and took the couple to hospital. Mrs Hinson’s neck was broken but she has since recovered.

Police vehicle examiner William Holden told the inquest he found no faults in either BMW which could have contributed towards the crash. The incident had happened 150 metres from the A272 junction near Coles Hall Cottages.

He said the black BMW seemed to enter the left-hand bend with no braking applied and concluded the driver had a episode at the wheel which meant he had not reacted to the bend. He believes he was incapacitated before the collision. Mr Craze recorded a verdict of road traffic accident.