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Inquest hears how road sign warning of hazard was hidden at site where motorcyclist was killed

Darlington and Stockton Times: Reeth, not far from the spot where a County Durham motorcyclist was killed Reeth, not far from the spot where a County Durham motorcyclist was killed

AN INQUEST has heard how an experienced motorcyclist was killed trying to negotiate water draining on to a road, moments after a similar accident was narrowly avoided at the spot.

The inquest today (Tuesday, December 10) heard how William McCourt, 52, from Seaham, County Durham, died when he lost control of his motorbike on the A6108 Reeth to Richmond road.

On the afternoon of September 15, 2012, he had been driving with his brother and two friends, all of whom were said to be experienced riders and were heading back to Seaham.

Mr McCourt’s brother, Gene McCourt told the inquest at Northallerton’s Evolution Centre, that he and his brother had learnt to ride off-road motorcycles as children and ridden thousands of miles together as adults.

On the day in question, Gene McCourt was behind his brother on the road.

As they neared a left hand bend he was surprised to see his brother’s brake lights go on, as his brother would usually read potential hazards in advance and use his gears to adapt his speed, rather than braking harshly.

He said: “When his brake lights came on I knew something was going on. Maybe there was a car parked or something. Within a couple of seconds, even less, I saw the glisten of water and realised that’s what it probably was.”

As his brother applied his brakes while cornering, in response to seeing the water draining across the road from farmland, his wheels locked.

The bike skidded across the road and hit a stone wall on the opposite side of the road. He died instantly of head injuries.

Another motorcyclist unknown to Mr McCourt, Paul Griffith, from near Carnforth, Lancashire, had travelled the same section of road just moments earlier.

He told the inquest as he had positioned himself near the centre of the road to take the lefthand corner, he said it was a “great shock” to find water just round the corner.

“Because of the lean of the bike I knew if I hit the brake I would definitely come off. I just remember throwing my left leg on the road quite hard, but at a position it would pick the bike up again.

“Unfortunately that left me completely the wrong side of the road, I believe narrowly missing the wall. Fortunately for me there wasn’t a car coming the other way.”

When he read about the accident the following day, he drove over from Lancashire to revisit the section of road and contact the police.

Expert witness, Graham McCulloch, who at the time was a traffic collision investigating officer, but has since retired, said he found a flood warning road sign lying in the grass about 60 metres away from the flooded section on the road.

When he lifted it up, the grass beneath was yellow, suggesting it had been like that for “some period of time”.

The inquest continues.

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