Inquest reveals details of tragic death of St Albans dad Jamie Hulse killed in quad bike accident
- Credit: photo supplied
Hopes of preventing further quad bike deaths have been dashed after an inquest was told that there was no proof of widespread flouting of safety rules.
Herts Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan yesterday concluded a two-day inquest into the death of Jamie Hulse, 47, of Smallford while on a quad bike excursion in Morocco on July 16 last year.
An autopsy showed that Jamie died of multiple traumatic injuries after his quad bike fell 100 ft down a steep rocky slope.
He and wife Sally had gone to Morocco to stay at the Kasbah Tamadot, situated in the Atlas Mountains, about 50km south of Marrakesh.
The coroner heard evidence from fellow holidaymakers who joined Jamie on the quad bike excursion on July 16 last year, along with Andy Heitman, an expert from the European ATV Safety Institute, that the bikes used were not suited to the terrain and posed a safety risk to those driving them.
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There were problems from the start of the excursion, with Jamie given a helmet which was too big for his head. There was no choice over the size of the helmet.
Sally told the inquest that the guide appeared to speak very little English and mainly used hand gestures, She incorrectly assumed from those gestures that the group would be driving along a riverbed.
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Those on the excursion had minimal training on use of the bike, on which they briefly practised on a small parcel of wasteland.
The coroner’s court heard that the group headed straight onto a busy road, despite children being among them and the presence of lorries.
Sally said that if Jamie had been made aware of the dangers of the route they were about to embark on, he would never have gone.
She alleged that the hotel, which appeared to be the organisation offering the quad bike trips, “put profit before the safety of anyone’s life.”
It was after the group was led on to a narrow gravel and dirt mountain track that Jamie, for unknown reasons, fell with his bike, down a steep slope.
Holidaymakers tried to help him, and were concerned that an ambulance which arrived at the scene had few medical facilities, including a neck brace.
He died on the way to hospital.
The Herts Advertiser understands that the hotel is part of Sir Richard Branson’s exclusive collection of retreats, marketed as Virgin Limited Edition (VLE).It has since stopped promoting such quad biking excursions.
Evidence was provided on behalf of the hotel by Jon Brown, managing director of VLE, who is also a director of Virgin Hotels Maroc SA, the Moroccan company which owns the hotel. He apologised to the family for their loss.
Expressing his sadness to Jamie’s family attending the inquest, the coroner ruled that he died as a result of an accident.
He said defects in the quad bike contributed to his death, including safety equipment such as his helmet, inadequate instruction and that it was an unsuitable route for an inexperienced rider.
But Mr Sullivan declined a request from the family’s counsel to file a prevention of future death report to stop further quad biking deaths, as he did not feel that there was an industry-wide problem with safety among holiday operators.
Jamie’s death came just a month after the death of his mother Pam, the owner of family-run St Albans greengrocers ES Hulse & Son, which closed in Cell Barnes Lane last year.