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'High Wycombe motorcyclist was riding at 123mph before fatal crash'
A MOTORCYCLIST was travelling at 123mph moments before he ran into the back of a lorry on the M40, an inquest heard.
Steven Salisbury was killed instantly when his motorbike collided with a crane lorry near the M25 interchange at about 8am on May 29.
But witnesses to the fatal crash said they were mystified why the 34-year-old garage manager had made no effort to pull into an empty outside lane to go around the lorry.
Motorist James Nutkins was overtaken by Mr Salisbury when he was 300 metres away from the lorry. Mr Nutkins had seen the motorcycle a long way behind him in his wing mirror, but when he went to check again before pulling out he realised it had caught up with him.
He told the inquest at High Wycombe Law Courts: "I thought to myself it was going very fast. It passed me very quickly, I would estimate 30 to 40mph more than me.
"I continued to watch and realised the motorcycle would have to move out and go around the lorry. I was very surprised it didn't move straight out.
"Lane four was empty and I expected it to move out so it didn't have to slow down. I then expected to see it slow down but it didn't. At no point did I see any brakelights go on.
"Around 20 metres behind it, it leaned over a long way to the right. A split second later I saw it had hit the back of the lorry on the right hand side and the rider had bent around the back corner and ragdolled through the air."
Mr Nutkins added: "I felt there was enough time for the motorcycle to move into lane four. I don't know why the rider didn't try to go round the lorry sooner. There were no obstructions."
Dale Roberts, who was driving the lorry, said his vehicle was limited to travelling at 56mph. Initially he was in the inside lane but wanted to continue along the M40 so cautiously pulled across to the third lane of four, pausing in the second lane before looking in his wing mirror and pulling out.
He said around 100 metres after pulling into the third lane he heard a loud bang and his passenger Peter Foster initially believed they had suffered a tyre blow-out.
Mr Roberts said he looked in the mirror again and saw Mr Salisbury in the road, where he ended up after rebounding off the central reservation.
Collision investigators were able to work out from CCTV footage that Mr Salisbury, of Aspen Court, High Wycombe, was travelling at 123mph when he was around 200 yards away from the lorry, although they could not ascertain how quickly he was moving when he hit it.
A post mortem showed he had traces of cocaine and cannabis in his bloodstream, although it could not be ascertained if he was under the influence of the drugs at the time of the crash.
Recording a verdict of misadventure, coroner Richard Hulett said Mr Salisbury was probably either distracted or had a lapse in concentration prior to the collision.