December 10 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 20, 2013
A father died when his lorry carrying alcohol exploded into a fireball on the M25 after he crashed into the back of another vehicle.
Kuldip Dhillon, 57, was an experienced HGV driver, an inquest heard today.
On the night of May 25 this year, police set up a road block on two lanes between junctions 27 and 28 near Noak Hill, and used gantries to advise motorists to gradually slow down to 20mph.
Mr Dhillon was driving along at 1am when there were few vehicles on the road.
Lorry driver Steven Cox was behind Mr Dhillon before the crash.
He said: “I saw him overtake me and I saw the speed restrictions so I slowed down to about 30mph. Then I heard a loud bang and about 200 metres in front of me the lorry stopped immediately. The tarpaulin flew up into the air and I initially thought it wasn’t a serious accident then two seconds later the trailer was engulfed in a fire ball that almost filled the four lanes.
He added: “He seemed to be driving professionally.”
Mr Dhillon was trapped in the cab of his lorry and died from burns after the alcohol he was transporting combusted after an electrical spark.
Police said results from the tacograph – a device that records a vehicle’s speed - showed Mr Dhillon was driving at between 47mph and 57mph on the point of impact.
The inquest at Walthamstow Coroners’ Court on Friday heard how the Indian-born married father-of-two from Grays, Essex, was a driving instructor for many years.
Mr Dhillon had sought medical attention for a weakness in his left foot that was first mentioned to his GP in 2005, but his consultant neurologist Dr Mary Reilly said there was no reason to suspect his problem would impact his ability to drive.
His son Baljinder Dhillon paid tribute to a much-loved family man.
“He was a very loving and caring husband, son, father, brother and uncle. He was a very traditional person and led by example. He has left a big void in our family. I doubt we will ever truly get over it. It is such a big mystery to what happened,” he said.
Nina Day, an engineer from the Health and Safety Laboratory, said the load he was transporting was not restrained properly.
The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death but said he would write to the Department for Transport to urge enforcement of its load securing code of practice.
An accomplice to a gang of cold-calling builders who took an 87-year-old Upminster man for £64,000 has been jailed for 18 months for money laundering.