View Full Version : Accident inquiry findings

10-Mar-16, 08:11
Brake failure caused crash on "inherently dangerous" stretch

A NORTH sheriff has branded Berriedale Braes as "inherently dangerous".
His criticism, certain to add weight to campaigners pressing for a re-alignment of that notorious section of the A9, came in his findings following an inquiry into the death of long distance lorry driver Bruce Cormack in September 2014.
Sheriff Andrew Berry put the accident down to a sudden brake failure.
Forty-one-year old' Mr Cormack's lorry and trailer crashed after they failed to take a left-hand bend on the south Berriedale Brae in Caithness, trapping him in his crushed cab.
The accident occurred as the experienced driver was returning north on the A9, from Invergordon - "a routine trip" - with a load of agricultural fertiliser which was spilled over the roadway.
In his findings, Sheriff Andrew Berry described the braes as "a truly exceptional stretch of roadway, not one for the faint-hearted". He added: "I think that it can readily be said, that this stretch of road, is, of itself, inherently dangerous."
Firefighters had to use cutting equipment to release Mr Cormack, described as an experienced and respected long-distance driver. Earlier, passers-by stopped and raised the alarm. They kept Mr Bruce talking, but it reached the point where they got no reply.
Sheriff Berry said that he was satisfied that the lorry's brakes were not an issue before Mr Cormack stopped at Helmsdale, in Sutherland, earlier in the day. Evidence from several witnesses indicated that he had no concern about his vehicle and he would not have driven on if he had had any.
Ian Brown, a vehicle examiner with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, at the time, carried out an investigation. He found that three of the six brakes on the vehicle were inoperative at the time of the incident. Mr Brown concluded that this would have severely reduced braking effort and could have contributed to the accident.
Mr Brown made the point, however, that all three deficient parts of the braking system could have been working at the top of the Berriedale Braes as Mr Cormack began his steep descent.
Sheriff Berry commented: "That Mr Cormack did not use the escape lane before his vehicle rolled over, indicates there was a sudden and catastrophic failure in the vehicle's brakes, whereby the left-hand bend could not safely be negotiated".
The sheriff added: "Had the failure of the brakes happened at a more forgiving location, it might well be, that the consequences of the accident would have been greatly reduced. Indeed, there might not have been an accident at all."
Sheriff Berry noted that the family firm, W. D. Cormack and Sons, in which Mr Cormack was a partner, had taken a number of steps to enhance the in-house servicing and repair of their lorry fleet, although the sheriff added that there was "nothing to suggest this tragic accident" could have been foreseen.
The sheriff returned a formal verdict that Mr Cormack died in a tragic accident, going about his daily work.having sustained injuries as a result of which he died.
The deceased, who lived at Huna House, Durran, near Castletown village, is survived by his wife Lynn, son Scott and parents Sandy and Jane.