Did Spalding crash tragedy driver fall sleep at the wheel?

The grim scene on the A16 at Crowland where a Spalding couple lost their lives. SG130217
The grim scene on the A16 at Crowland where a Spalding couple lost their lives. SG130217

A holidaymaker driving home to Spalding fell asleep moments before crashing head-on into a lorry on the A16 at Crowland, it is believed.

Driver Robert McCloud (69) and his wife Anne (75) were killed in the accident at about 4.40am on Monday, February 13 – just over three-and-a-half hours after landing at Stansted Airport at the end of a week’s holiday in Cyprus.

Their car was negotiating a sweeping right hand bend and lorry driver Michael Pask, who was travelling towards Peterborough, described how the silver Peugeot carried on going right, crossing the central line into his carriageway before the impact,

In a statement read out at an inquest yesterday, Mr Pask said: “The noise of the impact was like a bomb going off.”

The inquest heard retired lorry driver Mr McLoud, an experienced driver, and his wife had rested on their journey home, taking a 40-45 minute break at a McDonald’s in Peterborough.

Dr Murray Spittal, one of the coroners for South Lincolnshire, said the circumstances surrounding the couple’s death were “particularly significant as we go into the holiday season when, without doubt, thousands of journeys will be made in similar circumstances”.

The McClouds sustained multiple injuries and Dr Spittal made the formal conclusion that they died as a result of a road traffic collision.

The accident happened near a roundabout some 500 metres away from the Lincolnshire/Cambridgeshire border.

Mr Pask, a driver with Mason Brothers Transport at Swineshead, said he was accelerating away from the roundabout, doing 25-30mph, when he first saw the McClouds’ car travelling at an estimated 60-80mph.

He said there was nothing he could do to avoid the crash.

The inquest heard Mr Pask braked hard and a Ford Transit behind him hit the back of his trailer.

No one else was injured.

PC Michelle Ford, a collision investigator with Lincolnshire Police, found no marks from the Peugeot that would have indicated Mr McCloud had tried to brake before the impact.

She said: “The front of the car crushed so significantly it reduced its overall length by a metre.”

PC Ford said marks left by the lorry braking extended up to 17.5m and it was evident Mr Pask was trying to steer to his left to try to avoid a crash.

She said: “I am satisfied that Mr Pask was an alert driver and reacted properly to the hazard before him.”

The pathologist who examined Mr McCloud ruled out any “medical event” that could have led to the collision and safety checks on the vehicles were all-clear.

PC Ford said: “I am of the opinion that it’s highly likely that he’s fallen asleep at the wheel of his car while driving.”

• Speaking after the inquest, their daughter Karen Anderson said: “They were happy go lucky people, they lived for the moment.”

She recalled Bob always used to say “keep a smile on your dial”.

Anne had worked as a driving instructor.

Karen said they met when Queensgate was being built in Peterborough and said Bob was a tiler at the time.

Mr McCloud, known as Bob, and Anne had two children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.