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Sleep apnoea: tiredness kills

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Jennifer Tracey | 18:07 UK time, Wednesday, 10 September 2008

tiredness_kills.jpgAt 8.35am on 8 August 2006, 25-year-old Toby Tweddell was waiting in a traffic queue on his way to work in Merseyside. Moments later an articulated lorry collided with a series of vehicles and his car was shunted forward under the flatbed of a Ford Transit pick-up.

So great was the damage to his car, it took an hour for rescue services to release Toby from the car. He died five hours later in the operating theatre.

The lorry driver, 54-year-old Colin Wrighton, had fallen asleep at the wheel. But on 5 August 2008, the coroner returned a verdict of Accidental Death rather than Unlawful Killing. This is because Mr Wrighton suffers from sleep apnoea - which was undiagnosed at the time of the accident.

Following the inquest, the coroner took an usual step and issued a Rule 43 Report (links to PDF) to the Lord Chancellor, calling for changes in the way sleep apnoea amongst lorry drivers is dealt with.

Toby's uncle, Seb Schmoller, wrote to iPM inviting us to investigate. You can read the full story and coroner's report on Seb's blog.

Thanks for the emails and ideas you've sent in about sleep apnoea after we mentioned it on the programme. All thoughts are very welcome - leave a comment on the blog, or drop us a line.

On this week's iPM, we'll be talking to Toby's parents and also to the lorry driver, Colin Wrighton, and considering whether changes need to be made.

Our extended inteviews are available here. Click "more" to hear from other contributors.

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