Accidental death verdict on sportsman hit by three cars as he walked home

THE wife of sportsman James Burns had tried to pick him up from an Ely pub less than 90 minutes before he was struck by three cars and died as he walked home, an inquest heard.

Felicity Burns went to the West End to collect Mr Burns from a post golf match celebration - but when he failed to appear, or answer his phone, she returned home - and he agreed to travel back to Witchford by taxi.

Consultant pathologist Dr Alison Cluroe said 43-year-old Mr Burns, a member of Ely Tigers Rugby Club and chairman of Littleport Badminton Club, died from multiple injuries. His blood alcohol reading was lower than drivers are allowed, but she added: “My feelings are that it would have been higher at the time of the accident.”

The first car to hit Mr Burns on the A142 was driven by quantity surveyor Anthony Holden of Ely, as he approached the Lancaster Way roundabout. “Someone appeared from my left, a matter of a few feet from the front of the car. It was instantaneous, there was nothing I could do,” he said.

Mr Holden drove off to the BP garage to summon help, and said: “I have asked myself a thousand times what would have happened if I had stopped, but I just thought I had to get help.”


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The other drivers to collide with Mr Burns had been travelling in the opposite direction. They were Shawkot Chowdhury in his Fencabs taxi, and Mr Raymond Dellow of Willingham, who was returning home from a charity dance at Ely College.

Mr Chowdhury felt a bump and thought he had hit an animal. Taxi passenger Paul Elsom said: “Something appeared in front of the car, I did not see if it was in the road or crossing the carriageway. I just saw a blur of something, then we hit it.”

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Mr Dellow said: “There was an enormous bump just before I got to the taxi, I felt I was going over something.”

Friend and fellow golfer Stuart Marsh said Mr Burns was slurring his words, but was lucid, before he left the pub, saying he was getting a taxi home.

PC Steven Edwards said: “It is not know if Mr Burns stepped out into the road. It is likely he was in the process of crossing the road, he had consumed alcohol and that may have affected his judgement.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner said: “The evidence suggests Mr Burns was upright when he was struck by the Volvo, and in a prone position when he was struck by the Fiat and Honda vehicles, it was a tragic sequence of events.”

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