A WEST Somerset builder was killed instantly in an horrific head-on crash with a car while on a motorcycling holiday through Spain with three friends, a coroner was told this week.
Ian Chappel, aged 60, suffered multiple unsurvivable injuries on what should have been a month-long holiday to go adventure riding in Morocco.
Mr Chappel, of Parkhouse Road, Minehead, was riding his KTM 790 Adventure motorcycle just ahead of his friend Phil Baker, who was the only witness to the crash and was then also seriously injured as the car hit him.
Their two other friends, Greg Wedlake and his son Cameron Wedlake, had been travelling a few minutes behind them and came across the crash scene in Ciudad Real, on the M-502 road to Cordoba.
The Spanish car driver, a 30-year-old man, had to be cut free from the vehicle by firefighters and was then helicoptered to hospital, where he died a short time later.
Mr Baker said in a statement he had been about two car lengths behind Mr Chappel as they approached a left-hand bend.
He saw a car coming in the other direction and immediately knew the driver was not in control of it because the wheels had locked and smoke was being emitted by the hard braking.
Mr Baker said the car slid straight and crossed onto the wrong side of the road and collided with Mr Chappel before he was himself struck.
He said the moment of impact was ‘like a bomb going off’.
Mr Baker said he lost consciousness and when he came round Greg Wedlake was talking to him and told him that Mr Chappel had died.
He was taken to a Spanish hospital with severe injuries which required surgery before he could return home.
Mr Baker said the four friends had caught a ferry from Portsmouth to Santander, in northern Spain, and had ridden about 250 miles on their first day before making an overnight stop.
On the second day they had stopped at a petrol station for coffee, and when they set off again Greg and Cameron Wedlake were taking longer to get ready, so Mr Baker and Mr Chappel rode ahead.
He said Mr Chappel took the lead because he had travelled the route previously, and the crash happened about 10 minutes later.
Mr Baker said Mr Chappel was a vastly experienced rider in all terrains, having negotiated desserts and mountains during thousands of miles travelling all over the world.
Minehead GP Ed Ford provided evidence that there were no medical issues which would have affected Mr Chappel’s riding ability.
Dr Ford said he was aware Mr Chappel was an experienced motorcyclist who had previously visited Morocco in 2016, Russia in 2015, and travelled extensively on his machine in Africa, during which time he had only one incident when a tyre blow-out caused him to fall off.
Somerset senior coroner Samantha Marsh said the evidence showed Mr Chappel was correctly positioned on the road as he approached a left-hand bend, was travelling within the speed limit, was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and there were no mechanical defects with his motorcycle.
Mrs Marsh said unfortunately Spanish investigators had not provided any evidence about the car driver’s speed or whether he had alcohol or drugs in his blood.
She said the speed at which the crash happened left Mr Chappel unable to do anything about it and he had died instantly as a result of injuries which were ‘entirely incompatible with life’.
Mr Chappel was well-known in the motorcycling world and had won awards at The V.I.N.C.E, an annual trail-riding map-reading challenge in The Pyrenees.