A driver died when the parcel shelf he was holding at the side of the A404 was caught in an apparent gust of wind and knocked him over into the path of an oncoming horsebox, an inquest has heard.

Peter Sanders, 67, died of multiple catastrophic injuries in a freak accident at the side of the A404 heading towards Marlow on the afternoon of June 3 this year.

Mr Sanders had pulled his Range Rover over into a closed lay-by and was seen with the car boot up, “tugging” on the parcel shelf before he stumbled backwards twice - into the path of a white Renault horsebox being driven by Amanda Welin in the left-hand lane of the dual carriageway.

An inquest into the death of Mr Sanders, a chartered surveyor and chartered accountant of Smewins Lane in White Waltham, heard that Ms Welin was driving her son and four horses to an event at the Royal Berkshire Polo Club at the time of the tragic accident.

Describing what happened in a statement, Ms Welin said she saw Mr Sanders with his back to the traffic, leaning into the back of his car and trying to pull something out.

She said: “As I got closer, he seemed to fall backwards. I had no time to brake and there was not enough time or space to stop. I reacted immediately by swerving to the right to try and avoid him, I was straddling two lanes but hadn’t been able to move over fast enough. I felt the impact with the man.”

Ms Welin said she slowed down but could not find somewhere safe to stop, so she carried on up the road until she got to the A4155 slip road and left the horsebox there.

Worried about her horses in the vehicle on the hot day, she called her husband – who was travelling to the same place separately – who came and drove with a police escort to drop the horses off at the polo club.

Ms Welin added: “There was nothing I could have done. I was in shock. I have been very distressed ever since. I feel very sorry for the man and his family.”

Eyewitness Robert Jenner, who was a passenger in a Nissan Cabstar being driven by his boss towards Slough, said he saw clearly what happened.

He said: “About three vehicle lengths ahead of us I saw a man who was stood at the back of a vehicle. The boot was up and he was holding a black parcel shelf. It appeared a gust of wind caught it and pushed him into the road and he was struck by a lorry. Half his body was in the carriageway.”

He added that he did not think there was anything Ms Welin could have done to avoid hitting Mr Sanders.

Mr Jenner and his boss pulled over to assist and he called emergency services. Despite the best efforts of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance, Mr Sanders was pronounced dead at the scene at 2.33pm.

Another witness, HGV driver Paul Nowacki, also saw Mr Sanders “pulling and pulling” on a parcel shelf and handed over dashcam footage of the moments before the incident to police, adding: “I saw him stumble. I saw the white horsebox try to avoid him but it hit him.”

Senior coroner for Buckinghamshire, Crispin Butler, said it was not clear what prompted Mr Sanders to pull over in the first place because tests after his death revealed his Range Rover was in good working order.

Siobhan O’Connell, collision investigator, said the boot floor panel and a jack were outside of the Range Rover when she arrived at the scene, but added that all of the car’s tyres were suitably inflated.

It was noted that the A404 had recently been resurfaced and the lines between the lay-by – which was shut because the road surfacing vehicles were parked there ready to do more work that night – and the first lane had not yet been repainted, but this was not thought to have contributed to Mr Sanders’ death.

His family said he was a “cautious driver” and may have pulled over if he had heard a noise or a warning light came up on the dashboard, which it sometimes did.

Mr Butler said Mr Sanders’ death was the result of a “terribly tragic coincidence”, adding: “The Range Rover was in tip top condition which heightens the tragedy because he didn’t need to pull over.

“We can’t identify why he was doing what he was doing. For some reason, he needed to check something or move something from the vehicle.

“There was a gap in the traffic and then the horsebox came along. There is some suggestion there may have been a gust of wind that caused him to step backwards. He wasn’t looking towards the approaching traffic. It seems he wasn’t aware of the horsebox at all.

“The reason for him to be parking there, we do not know. If he was a cautious person, he may have felt he needed to investigate something.

“He was struck without knowing what was going on. He took no evasive action.”

At the end of the inquest, which was attended by Mr Sanders’ wife Nancy, his two daughters and his two sons-in-law, Mr Butler ruled that his death was as a result of a road traffic accident.