A crash on the M5 which resulted in the deaths of five people was caused by a tyre blow out, a coroner has ruled.
A lorry suffered a puncture before it crossed a central reservation and into the path of oncoming traffic, an inquest at Avon Coroners Court heard.
John Bakewell was driving his Mercedes lorry, previously described as a horsebox on the southbound carriageway of the M5 on September 16, 2017.
He runs Bakewell Transport with his son Michael.
The incident took place between junctions 14 and 15 for Fairfield and Thornbury.
They blow out on the off-side caused the lorry to veer to the right and Mr Bakewell to lose control of the truck, Bristol Live is reporting .
It careered across the central reservation and across all three lanes of the northbound carriageway.
It hit two cars – a Seat and a Subaru Forester.
Adrian Beaumont, a 46-year-old company director from Bristol who was in the Seat, was killed instantly.
His parter Dr Rebecca Mitchell, 42, died the following April from her injuries in hospital.
Their children were also in the car and although injured, survived.
Three members of the same family from Liverpool travelling in the Subaru hit by the truck – Richard Henry Evans, 66, his wife Elaine, 62, and her elderly mother Audrey Hodge, 84 – also all died at the scene.
At an inquest hearing at Avon Coroners Court, the cause of death given was multiple injuries. Ms Mitchell’s cause of death was given as a lower respiratory tract infection due to traumatic brain injury.
A lengthy and detailed investigation into the crash was held.
Avon and Somerset Police forensic collision investigator PC Sharon Little said the drivers on the northbound carriageway could not avoid the collision.
She told the hearing: “Both Mr Evans and Mr Beaumont had insufficient time to react to the lorry coming onto the wrong side of the motorway.
“There is nothing they could have done to avoid the collision.
“Mr Bakewell had no control over the lorry after the blow out of the tyre.
“He could not have done anything to avoid the blow out and the collision which followed.”
The three day inquest heard how the truck had passed an MOT in March that year and had only done 1,200 kilometres up until the time of the accident.
However the truck had received an advisory from Vehicle Standards Agency (VSA) tester Jason Spittle that the off side front tyre was cut close to the cords.
The tyre was inspected by independent experts who concluded that although the tyre met the legal minimum it had structural defects due to ageing which were likely to have caused the blow out.
The inquest heard the tyres on the lorry had been manufactured in 1999.
However it was not clear how long the tyres had been on the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Checks on the tacograph in the lorry being driven by Mr Bakewell showed he was travelling within the 60mh speed limit.
The Seat and the Subaru both had no defects that could have contributed to the crash.
Department of Transport principal engineer Bernard Frost, giving evidence at the hearing, read a statement from road safety minister Jesse Norman.
In the statement Mr Norman conveyed his deepest sympathy to the families of all those affected in the tragedy.
He added the Government was watching the proceedings carefully and taking note of the evidence given to the court.
The inquest heard how the Department for Transport had first become aware of issues with ageing tyres on vehicles following a fatal collision involving a coach on the A3 in 2013 which claimed the lives of three people.
At the time the coroner leading the inquest wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport asking what steps the Government could take regarding the prohibition of tyres of a certain age.
Guidance was issued in 2016 that all public service vehicles and commercial vehicles should not use tyres over 10 years old.
Further research into this matter was commissioned by the DfT in January last year and is due to be completed by April.
The DfT has now started a consultation on limiting the use of tyres which are more than 10-years-old.
Coroner for Avon Maria Voisin gave a conclusion that the deaths were due to a road traffic collision.
She also added a narrative part to the conclusion, recording the front off side tyre of the truck suffered a blow out causing a sudden and instant deflation which caused the lorry to veer sharply to the right.
She added: “The tyre was 18 and three quarter years old and had suffered structural deterioration due to ageing.
“This worsened during service allowing the case to separate and the tyre to burst.”
Mrs Voisin chose not to pursue a report into the prevention of future deaths on the basis of the work being done by the DfT on tyre age.
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