Multiple factors caused crash which killed Harpenden businessman
PUBLISHED: 20:01 18 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010
THREE factors contributed to the death of a café manager who died in a head-on crash earlier this year, an inquest has ruled. Father-of-two Rajib Ali Khan was driving along the A1081 near Kinsbourne Green on his way to work in Harpenden at the time of the
THREE factors contributed to the death of a café manager who died in a head-on crash earlier this year, an inquest has ruled.
Father-of-two Rajib Ali Khan was driving along the A1081 near Kinsbourne Green on his way to work in Harpenden at the time of the accident at around 5am.on January 8.
The 33-year-old, who was the manager of the Mr Bean Café in Station Approach, lost control of his car and crossed into the northbound carriageway into the path of a transit van driven by Network Rail engineer Greg Truszak, who sustained minor injuries.
Mr Truszak was driving on the correct side of the road and within the speed limit at 50mph.
Giving evidence at the inquest, he said: "All I can remember is blue-coloured headlights coming straight towards me - it was just a split second before impact."
Mr Khan, who was driving a black Vauxhall Vectra at high-speed, sustained multiple traumatic injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by a team of paramedics.
Last Thursday's inquest heard that he was a well-loved and kind-hearted family man.
Investigations showed that Mr Khan, of Carisbrook Road, Luton, was driving at between 72mph and 88mph on the national speed limit stretch of road leading up to the accident and his speedometer was frozen at 65mph on impact.
Concerns were raised at the inquest that Mr Khan's car had skidded on some diesel that caused an earlier but non-serious accident, around 10 metres north of the Kinsbourne Green Lane junction. It happened just after the fuel spillage was reported to the police.
Beds Highways covered the oil in sharp sand to absorb it and the road was reopened but the highways team was still present when Mr Khan's accident happened a few hours later, about 50 metres north of the first incident.
Lorry driver Ralph Meek, who was parked nearby, was the first on the scene. He said: "I heard a massive crash and saw clouds of smoke. I looked back and knew there had been a serious accident." It later emerged that his vehicle had lost some diesel that night.
PC Roy Ward, road accident investigator, said there was oil covered in thick sand on the opposite side of the road to where Mr Khan lost control. Although there was a possibility one of his tyres could have clipped some sand, PC Ward said it would not have caused him to lose control if he had been travelling within the speed limit.
He said: "Mr Khan was driving at a very substantial speed and I believe that's the main reason that the car lost control. My conclusions are that if he was driving at 60mph he would have safely negotiated any area covered in sand. When there's sand on the road friction decreases with higher speeds."
PC Ian Breacher told the inquest how Mr Khan's mobile phone fell out of the car's airbag when he inspected the vehicle at a compound.
Although phone records showed there were no calls or texts at the time of the crash, the whereabouts of the phone indicated that it was between Mr Khan and the steering wheel on impact. He was due to meet someone at a nearby petrol station at 5.30am.
Herts Coroner Edward Thomas concluded that Mr Khan's death was accidental and attributed it to three factors including the whereabouts of the mobile phone, the sand on the road and the high-speed he was travelling at.