Birkenhead HGV driver claimed sneezing fit caused fatal collision

An experienced HGV driver claimed a sneezing fit led to him ploughing into the back of a car on the A1, killing its driver.

Raymond Buff, 55, failed to stop for stationary traffic on the southbound carriageway near Eaton Socon at about 6.40pm on 9 December, 2019.

Buff’s HGV collided with the rear of a silver Volkswagen Golf being driven by 39-year-old Matthew Mitchell, of Emlyns Gardens, Stamford.

The impact was so severe it caused the Volkswagen to spin around 180 degrees and collide with three other vehicles.

Mr Mitchell was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for treatment but died the following day.

When speaking to officers at the scene Buff claimed he had had a sneezing fit which prevented him from seeing the traffic in time.

Buff, of Birkenhead, admitted causing death by careless driving.

On 3 May, at Peterborough Crown Court he was jailed for nine months. He was also disqualified from driving for a year.

Detective Sergeant Mark Dollard said, “Mr Buff was a professional, experienced HGV driver but he was responsible for the collision on the A1 and the subsequent death of Mr Mitchell.

“Mr Buff claimed he failed to react to congested traffic owing to a sneezing fit. This highlights the importance of being always aware of your surroundings while driving, and this is even more important if you are driving a lorry.

“Mr Buff never intended to cause such devastation that evening, but his actions did just that and they should be a stark warning to all road users. You have a responsibility to always take care and drive safely.”


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