Oxford

Prince William's flying instructor died in motorbike crash

The Duke of Cambridge's former flying tutor died in a high-speed motorcycle crash as he tried to overtake, an inquest has heard.

James Hassell, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene on the A417 near Faringdon, Oxfordshire, in March 2012.

The inquest, at Oxford Coroner's Court, heard him described as a "very distinguished helicopter pilot and instructor".

Mr Hassell trained Prince William to fly helicopters five years ago.

He was based at at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset and lived in Middle Wallop, Hampshire.

The court heard from his friend and colleague Matthew Coverley who was riding with Mr Hassell, at the time of the crash on 10 March last year.

He said they had accelerated to 70-80mph in order to overtake a truck, which turned right striking Mr Hassell.

Mr Coverley said: "I didn't see any indication on the truck, neither prior to or as it turned.

"The truck was travelling in a continuous motion, as if it has not seen Jim."

Giving his own evidence, the truck's driver, Polish national Marek Kucala, told the inquest that he had seen one of the motorcycles and had indicated that he was turning.

He said: "I indicated much earlier, before the entrance to Manor Farm as I knew where I was about to turn.

"The first time I checked my mirrors I didn't see anyone.

"When I moved to the centre of the road I checked the mirrors for the second time and I noticed the motorcycle."

Speaking through an interpreter, he said that as he saw the motorcycle was trying to overtake him he then tried to swerve back to the left side of the road to let him pass.

"It's really difficult to describe as all of it happened in a fraction of a second," he added.

The hearing continues.

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