An Amazon delivery driver killed in a motorway crash may have been using his phone seconds before smashing into the back of a lorry, an inquest has heard.
Petar Petrov suffered multiple fatal injuries when the Fiat Ducato van he was driving crashed into the rear of a stationary Polish HGV trailer on the M20 near Folkestone in December.
Giving evidence at the inquest held at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone on Monday, Kent Police forensic collision investigator Angela Holmes said that, although it is impossible to be certain, the van may have been travelling at around 100mph when the impact occurred.
The 32-year-old Bulgarian – who lived with fiancée Mirela Nikolova in Sheals Crescent, Maidstone – was declared dead at the scene of the accident, which happened shortly before 7.15pm on December 8 on the London-bound carriageway of the motorway close to Junction 11.
Ms Holmes told the inquest that Mr Petrov’s partner received a message from him via Facebook Messenger at 7.11pm – just two minutes before the report of the crash was received by police.
The inquest was told that the Polish lorry had slowed down over a distance of about 200 metres before coming to a halt in lane one of the motorway.
Police found the driver of the HGV to not be impaired through drink or drugs, and he had taken the required breaks. However, there was later some debate as to whether he may have been attempting to reverse having missed the slip road to exit at Junction 11.
DC Robert Fursey, from the Kent Police serious collision investigation unit, told the hearing a further interview with the lorry driver was planned for March – but the night before this was due to take place he took his own life in Poland.
He said: “I would conclude from the investigation that this collision was a result of actions by both parties involved.
“I conclude that Mr Petrov was distracted from his driving by using his mobile phone. Mr Petrov would not have expected to find a stationary or reversing lorry in lane one of the motorway that evening.”
Ms Nikolova, who attended the inquest via video link, thanked all those friends and colleagues who raised more than £8,000 to help her and the family following Mr Petrov’s death.
“My fiancé was loved by many of us and he will be always in our hearts,” she said of football-mad Petar.
“I would like to thank you all for your donations on GoFundMe and the support during these hard times. All his family members appreciate it. And personally I would like to thank the police family liaison officer for all her help and support.”
Assistant coroner Geoffrey Smith concluded he was not able to say that the death had been accidental, but returned a verdict of road traffic collision as the reason for Mr Petrov’s death.
“The police expert has told me that the damage was indicative of a significant impact,” he said. “Although she was unable to be precise, it may be a collision at high speed.
“It seems to me that there was certain evidence that tended to suggest that Mr Petrov was likely to have been using his mobile phone shortly before the collision.”
He closed the hearing by expressing his condolences to Mr Petrov’s fiancée and his family.