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Blinded biker tragedy on Honiton Road, Blagdon
A TEENAGER who died in a motorcycle accident was temporarily blinded when the sun disappeared behind a heavy tree canopy, an inquest heard.
Jake Brawn, 19, was out with two friends when his bike was in collision with a tree after he failed to negotiate a dark, sweeping bend on Honiton Road, Blagdon, on August 14, 2012.
Last Thursday’s inquest heard how his helmet, which complied with British standards and was correctly fastened, split from the neck to the visor and came off.
An off-duty nurse, who was driving past at the time, stopped to administer CPR before the ambulance arrived but Jake suffered dramatic head injuries and died shortly after the accident at 1pm.
Moments before, the group had been stuck behind a slow fuel tanker and a car before overtaking both responsibly.
Jake, who was at the back of the group, then decided to overtake his friend Freddie at about 80mph. Freddie told the court: “He then went to go around me on the opposite side of the road and the next thing I saw was his bike at the side of the road.”
Sergeant Leona Naifh, senior collision investigator for Avon and Somerset constabulary, said that a phenomenon known as dark adaptation, where the eye does not have enough time to react to a sudden change in light leading to temporary blindness, was the main factor in Jake’s death.
She added that the bike had one defect as it should have been restricted to 33 brake horsepower.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose said that overtaking his friend Freddie was not a dangerous manoeuvre in itself but Jake was unaware of the huge potential of his bike and the problems of this dark area.
“The fact Jake was travelling at around 80mph was not the material factor, it was the phenomenon known as dark adaptation where one moment you are in bright sunshine and the next in total darkness.
He added: “It is as bad as a shield in front of the eyes and not being able to see.
“A driver should slow down and I think in a way this was down to Jake’s inexperience. “Given the fact that he had accelerated one can’t help thinking that if there had been a restriction on the bike he could not have reached the speed.”
“These accidents do occur and it is a tragic matter,” he said. “I don’t think even if Jake had had a more expensive helmet on it would have made a difference.”
He added: “It is nice to see that we live in a country where people don’t drive on when there has been as accident, they stay and help.”