Motorcycle crash injuries from 1997 led to death

THE death of a keen gardener who lived and worked in the Chard area was accidental, a coroner has ruled.

Peter Heighes, 71, was paralysed after he and his wife crashed on their motorbike in August 1997 on the B3167 between Cricket St Thomas and Forton.

The inquest heard that Mr Heighes broke his spinal cord in the crash and was paralysed from the chest down.

He also suffered a punctured lung. Following the incident, Mr Heighes lived in Salisbury and Halcon House in Taunton before moving into a bungalow in Chard in July 2012.

In September last year, he was moved to Horton Cross nursing home in Ilminster but his health deteriorated and he died in Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton on October 13 last year.

A statement from a doctor at Musgrove Park Hospital said pneumonia and historic traumatic injury were the causes of death.

Mr Heighes left behind two sons, one daughter and four grandchildren.

His daughter, Michelle Grabham, said her father still lived a good quality of life after the crash.

She said: “He would take himself into the town and socialise – the bed sores were the problem and it knocked his confidence.

“He was a very quiet man and kept himself to himself but his real passion was for gardening.”

At the Old Municipal Buildings in Taunton last week, West Somerset coroner Michael Rose returned a verdict of accidental death.

He added: “Somewhere he and his wife parted company from a motorcycle – I do not believe they were driving recklessly.

"He suffered injuries that would last a lifetime and could not move after his spinal cord was broken. When you are stuck and unable to move that does attract infections.”

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