Oxford

RAF officer Gaz Stevens 'died instantly' in motorbike crash

Gaz Stevens Image copyright RAFBrizeNorton
Image caption RAF Brize Norton said Gareth Stevens was "a friend to many and he will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure to meet him"

A decorated Royal Air Force serviceman died when he fell off his motorbike as he tried to avoid crashing into a car at a junction, an inquest heard.

Squadron leader Gareth Stevens, 39, lost control of his Honda motorbike as he tried to avoid hitting a stationary car in Heythrop, Oxfordshire.

The court heard Mr Stevens had "little opportunity" to stop or avoid the car.

Coroner Darren Salter concluded his death was caused by a road traffic collision, on 29 June.

Oxford Coroner's Court heard Mr Stevens, who was known as Gaz to friends and family, had been riding behind his friend, squadron leader Thomas Sperring, towards Banbury, on the A361 when he saw the Chrysler Voyager up ahead.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The crash happened at a junction on the A361

Mr Sperring, who served with Mr Stevens in Afghanistan, said he had also saw the car, which had stopped and was indicating to turn right at a junction.

But after passing the vehicle, Mr Sperring said he heard "screeching and a crunching sound".

The court heard after overtaking a car behind the Chrysler, Mr Stevens braked heavily, resulting in "a loss of control".

Coroner Mr Salter said Mr Stevens, from Telford, Shropshire, fell from his motorbike as it slid on and hit the Voyager.

Mr Sperring along with other witnesses performed CPR on Mr Stevens, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

'Error of judgement'

A post-mortem examination showed he suffered a fatal neck fracture and "death would have been instant", a pathologist confirmed.

Mr Salter said Mr Stevens' "error of judgement approaching the junction" and the "difficult set of circumstances" he was presented with meant he "could not avoid losing control and coming off his motorcycle".

The coroner added neither Mr Stevens nor Mr Sperring had been riding "dangerously or recklessly".

Not long before he died, Mr Stevens had been awarded the Chief of Air Staffs' Commendation in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

He had served at RAF Brize Norton on Voyager Force and completed two operational tours.

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