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M5 crash inquest: Day five from Shire Hall, Taunton
Updated 12:58pm Tuesday 8th April 2014 in News
This live event has finished
- AN inquest into the deaths of seven people killed in a horrific pile-up on the M5 near Taunton in November 2011 continues today (Friday, April 3).
FOR updates from day six, click here.
POLICE Constable Richard Sims told the inquest that the crash scene was covered in a thick layer of fog when he and two colleagues flew over the site in the force helicopter.
They arrived over the scene of the accident at 9.05pm, around 3/4 hour after the pile-up.
"I could make out the lights from the scene," said PC Sims. "However, the scene itself was totally obscured by a thick layer of fog."
He said the fog was up to 200ft high and stretched to almost a mile north of the accident site and was on both sides of the motorway.
The helicopter was unable to land on the M5 so landed instead near Junction 24 at North Petherton.
A helicopter from RAF Chivenor was also in the area and came to the same conclusion - that it was impossible to land on the M5 near Taunton.
Quizzed on what caused the visibility to be so poor, PC Sims said: "The bank I saw was fog. It was rolling forward, extending its coverage.
"It was pretty bad that night."
TRAIN driver Andrew Gregg, who was at the control of a service from Plymouth to Bristol Temple Meads, said he encountered thick fog most of the way from Exeter to Taunton that evening.
There was a slight break in the fog at the Victory crossing, at Allerford, but by the time he reached Taunton Station shortly before 8pm it was "hazy".
Minutes later - still before 8pm, when the fireworks display started - he could not see Taunton Rugby Club as he drove past due to the "foggy" conditions.
"It isn't very often that you get fog like that," said Mr Gregg.
ANOTHER fireworks spectator, Spencer Smith, said after a while he could not see where the fireworks were going off.
He said: "I just took it that there was a general build up of smoke in that area obscuring your view.
"There was just a whitenss on the pitch. I took it that it was the general smoke of the fireworks."
SARAH Silverwood, who attended the fireworks display at Taunton Rugby Club, said there was "a low mist on the ground" that was "Harry Potteresque".
She said: "Smoke started to build into almost like a wall...it sort of moved across the pitch.
"The pitch almost disappeared - it reached the crowd. We were sort of in it."
She said the 'wall' reached the top of the stand and was about 30ft high.
She told the inquest: "I wouldn't have liked to have been driving through that smoke."
THE inquest into the deaths of seven people killed in a horrific pile-up on the M5 near Taunton in November 2011 continues today (April 4).
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,
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 four, click here.
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