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Mechanical failure could have caused motorcyclist’s fatal crash in Spalding

Russell Coombes ANL-160607-153743001
Russell Coombes ANL-160607-153743001

‘See you later, bro’ were the last words Russell Coombes said to his friend before a fatal motorcycle crash in Spalding, an inquest has heard.

Spalding Coroner’s Court was told the 21-year-old’s death occurred as a result of a rear wheel lock-up on West Elloe Avenue which caused him to lose control on December 29.

Senior collision investigator PC Godfrey Barlow told the inquest it could have been caused by either a mechanical failure in the gearbox or through Russell’s actions, such as reacting to an obstacle or corner, as he travelled along just after around 10.15pm. It was not possible to say for certain which one was correct.

PC Barlow estimated that Russell had been travelling on his Yahama at a speed exceeding the 30mph limit but could only place that speed at between 34-54mph. A police investigator tested the bike and found it to lock up once – but he could not replicate the instance, the inquest was told.

A piece of metal was found in the gearbox. Investigators could not determine where it had come from, but they were certain it had not been possible for it to get in during or after the collision.

Eyewitness Henry Alfonso, who was cycling home from work at Bakkavor, described seeing the bike travelling towards him and seeing Russell’s headlight ‘dancing’.

He said: “I thought he was trying to pop a wheelie – it was only later I realised he had lost control.” He described hearing a ‘thud’ before seeking someone to call an ambulance.

Witness statements from local residents also related what had happened. Private CCTV also captured a bike travelling along West Elloe Avenue. It was not possible to confirm it was Russell but the time of the recording made it highly likely.

Russell’s stepfather Ray Edwards told the inquest he did not believe driving ability was a factor. He said: “He was a fantastic rider; he came off a few times but I believe it was more likely the mechanical failure.”

A statement given to police by Russell’s friend Shane Cummings told how the pair had been at his home in Greenrigg Gardens, where they had played on his Xbox and ordered a takeaway.

Shane said he had been his ‘usual self’ and that the pair had not taken any illicit substances or alcohol because ‘Russell wasn’t into that sort of thing’. In his statement, he said that: “Before Russell left, he said ‘see you later, bro’.”

Russell was said to have left his bike and hit a lamppost, while his Yamaha carried on several metres further.

A pathologist report said Russell suffered an unsurvivable skull fracture along with injuries to the ribs and heart.

PC Barlow said he was satisfied that road and weather conditions were not a factor and that there were no other vehicles on the road.

The coroner also heard that although Russell had an A2 motorcycle licence, it was for a 31kw motorcycle – but he was riding a 66.8kw motorcycle.

Russell, who worked at Scania Truckeast, in Lynn, was formerly a cadet with 272 (Wisbech) Squadron ATC.

He had a passion for both bikes and cars, and more than 400 drivers and bikers turned up to his funeral in January.

Yesterday, Coroner Murray Spittle concluded that Russell, whose family home was in Marshland St James, had died as the result of a motorcycle collision.

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