US serviceman died as a result of crash at Barton Mills, inquest concludes

Airman 1st Class Darren Phillips, assigned to the 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, died  from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on the A1101 in Barton Mills on October 2, 2015. ANL-161010-163542001
Airman 1st Class Darren Phillips, assigned to the 48th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on the A1101 in Barton Mills on October 2, 2015. ANL-161010-163542001

A US serviceman died as surgeons battled to save him from severe injuries he sustained in a crash at Barton Mills, an inquest has heard.

Darren Phillips, 20, lost control of his motorcycle on the A1101 as he turned off the Fiveways roundabout on October 2 last year.

On Monday the inquest at Bury St Edmunds heard that the motorcycle he was riding tipped onto its side and collided with an oncoming car.

Part of the incident was witnessed by two Suffolk police detectives who were passing in an unmarked car and gave him first aid while awaiting the arrival of an ambulance.

Mr Phillips, who was from Illinois but was stationed at RAF Lakenheath, was driven to Addenbrooke’s Hospital after an air ambulance was unable to find a landing spot.

The inquest heard that Mr Phillips died as a result of multiple injuries, including fractures and significant internal bleeding, during emergency surgery in which he received 62 units of blood.

In a statement, Det Con Michael Gwyn said he had been slowing down on the approach to the Fiveways roundabout when the motorcycle passed in the opposite direction and he heard a loud bang.

Dc Gwyn said he looked back and saw the motorcycle rider laying face down in the middle of the road. On the side of the road was a Skoda car which had also been involved.

While Dc Gwyn and an ex ambulance worker passer-by gave first aid, Dc Anna Harvey went to check on Michael Upton, the Skoda driver, who was unhurt but shocked.

Mr Upton said in a statement that he braked and swerved as he saw the motorcycle sliding towards him but was unable to avoid an impact.

Suffolk police collision investigator Pc Jason Lambourne said no defects were found with the motorcycle.

He said one possibility was that Mr Phillips applied his front brake, possibly because he considered he was travelling too fast, as he came off the roundabout and then wrestled to retain control before his bike tipped onto it’s side.

Assistant Suffolk Coroner Nigel Parsley recorded a conclusion that Mr Phillips died as a result of a road traffic collision.

“It is very tragic when a serviceman who is serving his country and supporting ours loses his life to an incident such as this,” he said.