INQUEST: Former Royston apprentice died after motorbike hits back of van

The inquest was heard at The Old Courthouse in Hatfield.

The inquest was heard at The Old Courthouse in Hatfield. - Credit: Archant

A 20-year-old motorcyclist died after his speeding motorbike smashed into the back of a van turning out of a driveway, an inquest heard yesterday.

Budding mechanic Jack Alexander suffered multiple traumatic injuries when his Yamaha YZFR6 machine hit the Volkswagen Transporter on the B656 Royston Road at about 7.30am on July 17, and died at the scene.

Jack – who went to Samuel Whitbread Academy in Clifton and lived in Stotfold – had just finished working as an apprentice at Thermal Engineering in Royston.

PC Rob Jackson, who investigated the cause of the crash, said the motorbike was travelling at a minimum of 57mph to 61mph on a 40mph road, and it was ‘likely that he was doing more’.

He said that on a clear, summer’s day with no visibility problems Jack had lost control and driven into the back of the van as it turned out a driveway on Royston Road.

Michael Hanrahan, who was driving the van, said: “I have lived on Royston Road for 11 years and must have turned out of my drive for work a thousand times.

“If anyone is going at the right speed, it is never a problem to turn out of my drive.

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“I slowly edged out into the middle of the road, and made sure it was safe in both directions.

“In a split second I saw the motorbike coming round the bend. I could see a slight wobble, and that he was not in control. I accelerated as fast as I could to get out of the way, but he hit the back of my van.”

John Delaney, who was one of the drivers overtaken by Jack, said: “He came by me very fast, which made me jump. He accelerated into the bend and looked to be travelling well over the speed limit.”

Giving evidence, PC Andy Ralph of the serious collision investigation unit said: “By looking at Jack’s phone records we can see that he sent a text message at 2.47am, which would have given him around 51/2 hours sleep at most.”

Although PC Jackson stressed that Jack was not over the drink driving limit, the 20-year-old had ‘some residue of alcohol in his blood’ which ‘has a tendency to have an effect’ on driving.

Coronor Edward Thomas said: “Mr Hanrahan did everything he could and made the right judgement. Accelerating was the only chance for the motorcyclist to survive.

“Having spoken to Jack’s family, it is clear that he was a very nice young man.

“This was even more apparent by the outpouring of kind messages from his friends after the tragic accident.

“He was a very talented mechanic and would often help people repair their computers or make adaptations to their bikes.

“He obviously had a huge amount of technical knowledge.

“His family will miss him dreadfully – it is absolutely awful for them.

“It is an absolute tragedy for such a skilled, young man to be lost.”