Lorry driver reaching for chocolate bar killed pensioner and blocked Brighton bypass

Posted On 17 Jan 2015 at 2:17 pm

A pensioner died after a lorry driver took his eyes off the road while he reached for a bar of chocolate as he drove along the A27 Brighton bypass.

Andrew May, 45, was driving east along the bypass – on the Portslade stretch near the Southwick tunnel – when he crashed into a black Vauxhall Zafira.

May, of Truro Avenue, Doncaster, glanced away to look for the chocolate. He looked up as his lorry hit the Vauxhall. His lorry crossed the central reservation and overturned, blocking the westbound side of the road.

The crash happened shortly after 1pm on Thursday 25 July 2013, Sussex Police said.

The Spearhead

Ernest Humphrey, 79, of Mackie Avenue, Hassocks, suffered head injuries in the crash and was flown to Southampton General Hospital. Mr Humphrey died of his injuries on Tuesday 30 July.

The 49-year-old Vauxhall driver, also from Hassocks, suffered head, leg and chest injuries and was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton for treatment.

May was also treated at the hospital for minor injuries.

The A27 was closed between Hangleton and Holmbush for more than six hours and repairs to the central barriers meant that it had to be closed again later.

At Chichester Crown Court yesterday (Friday 16 January) May pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

The day before he was found not guilty of a separate charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

He was released on bail until Friday 20 February when he is due to be sentenced at Chichester Crown Court. He has been given an interim driving ban.

Sergeant Neil Walker said: “Mr Humphrey lost his life because Andrew May was not concentrating properly while he was driving.

“May only took his eyes off the road for a matter of seconds but that was enough for him to cause the accident that killed his victim, left Mr Humphrey’s family traumatised and also blocked the A27.

“It shows just how vital it is to avoid distractions when you are behind the wheel.

“Eating, drinking, smoking or using a mobile phone while you are driving, even with a hands-free kit, can affect how well you are concentrating and how quickly you could react in an emergency.

“The roads are there so that we can get from A to B. We all have a responsibility to use them safely rather than taking risks that put ourselves and other people in danger.”

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