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M5 crash inquest: Day three from Shire Hall in Taunton
Updated 1:23pm Wednesday 2nd April 2014 in News
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- Seven people died on night of November 4, 2011.
- Pile-up on M5 northbound left 51 injured.
- Legal proceedings against fireworks boss thrown out by judge in December.
- Coroner resumed inquest on Monday and could last for two weeks.
Michael Taylor, a committee member at Taunton Rugby Club, said the fireworks display was first proposed by Lee Whaddon to raise funds and also to celebrate his wife's birthday.
Mr Taylor said: "(After the display) the visibility in Hyde Lane was appalling - it was reduced to 10ft due to the smoke."
Club chairman Pete Stone called a committee meeting when news of the motorway accident filtered through.
"There were concerns that the fireworks may have distracted drivers on the motorway," said Mr Taylor.
Colin Bentley, who marketed the display for Taunton Rugby Club, said when he saw the flames from the accident, he initially thought it was a tree set on fire by a firework.
He said he was "relieved" when he discovered it was not caused by a tree on fire because of the display, although he felt guilty for such thoughts when he later heard the extent of the tragedy.
Mr Bentley, who said he reluctantly accepted the role of marketing the show, told how he had a meeting with fireworks organiser Geoffrey Counsell the month before the display.
Mr Counsell convinced Mr Bentley there would not be a problem with the proximity to the railway line of the M5, the court heard.
"I was really impressed with Geoff," said Mr Bentley.
He added that he lost the risk assessment form and wrote another one out from his notes from the meeting with Mr Counsell and from his own memory.
Former firefighter Kevin Giddins told the inquest that he drove between Taunton and Bridgwater earlier on the night of the accident.
He said he chose to drive on the A38 rather than the M5 because of the thick fog.
After attending Bridgwater Carnival, he drove back to Taunton on the A38 as the motorway was closed.
Referring to the weather conditions, he said: "It was clear one minute and then quite thick with fog the next...it had a ghostly sort of strange look, coming across the road, swirling around trees.
"Visibility was sometimes 20 metres and other times it was clear."
West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose (pictured) is sitting for the third day of the hearing in Shire Hall, Taunton.
The inquest is likely to last a total of two weeks.
The court will today hear about a fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club around 200 yards from the front of the pile-up.
The event, attended by around 1,300 people, finished six minutes before the first collision at 8.21pm on November 4, 2011.
A crown court case against organiser Geoffrey Counsell (pictured) - who had faced a health and safety charge - was thrown out ny the judge at a trial towards the end of last year.
AN inquest into the deaths of seven people killed in a horrific pile-up on the M5 near Taunton in November 2011 continues today (April 2).
West Somerset Coroner Michel Rose will continue the hearing into the deaths of Tony and Pamela Adams, 73 and 70, of Newport, lorry drivers Terry Brice, 55, of Bristol, and Kye Thomas, 38, of Gunnislake, Cornwall, Michael Barton, 67, and his daughter, Maggie, 23, of Berkshire, and gas supply worker Malcolm Beacham, of Woolavington, near Bridgwater.
They all died in the 37-vehicle pile-up in which 51 people were also injured travelling northwards just past junction 25.
For updates from day two, click here.
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