Suffolk

Dr Ronak Patel 'had been singing to stay awake' before fatal crash

Ixworth road Image copyright Google
Image caption Ronak Patel's VW Golf ended up in a ditch

A doctor who died in a crash on his way home from work had been singing on the phone to his wife to help keep him awake, an inquest has heard.

Dr Ronak Patel, 33, was using a hands-free phone shortly before his car hit a lorry in Honington, Suffolk.

PC Mark Webb told an inquest in Bury St Edmunds that "the most plausible explanation" for the crash was that he fell asleep at the wheel.

Dr Patel, of Ixworth, died at the scene on 3 August last year.

The inquest heard he had finished the third of three night shifts at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and wanted to get back home, rather than sleeping at the hospital.

The trainee anaesthetist's VW Golf collided head-on with a lorry on the A1088 Ixworth Road, at Honington, shortly before 09:00 BST.

Called 14 times

In a statement read at the inquest, Helen Patel said: "We were singing to keep him awake."

When her husband's phone cut off suddenly, she had tried unsuccessfully to call him back 14 times. She then started to drive along his route home but was met by police who said there had been a crash.

A police accident investigation ruled out mechanical defects and road conditions as possible causes of the crash.

PC Webb said: "It is my opinion that the most plausible explanation for the collision was that Dr Patel fell asleep which prevented him from having appropriate control of his car."

Lorry driver Peter Stimpson said in a statement he had seen Dr Patel's car come around a bend and start to drift across to the wrong side of the road.

Mr Stimpson said that despite braking and pulling his lorry to one side, there was nothing he could do to avoid the impact in which severe damage was caused to both vehicles.

Assistant Suffolk coroner Yvonne Blake recorded a conclusion that Dr Patel had died as a result of his car being involved in a collision with a heavy goods vehicle.