A DRIVER died after an “unavoidable” smash with another car as he swerved to avoid a tree blown over in a storm, an inquest heard.
Dan Barlow, 33, of Primrose Avenue, Macclesfield, died instantly from head injuries sustained in the smash on Farm Lane, Lower Withington, at 7am on February 13 last year at 7am.
An inquest at Macclesfield Town Hall on Friday heard the dad of two was on the way to his job as a nurse in Congleton when his VW Golf veered into the path of a Range Rover driven by company director Anne Styles.
The crash happened after two days of extreme weather which saw a number of trees blown down during 90mph winds.
The inquest heard that weather conditions on the afternoon of February 12, the day before the crash, had seen two motorists escape serious injury during incidents on Farm Lane. Car owner Steven Bennett said a large branch smashed the roof and windscreen of his Renault Clio at 4pm.
Meanwhile, Sarah Hawkins, a lecturer at Macclesfield College, told the hearing she had driven into a tree that had fallen into the road at 5.30pm.
The inquest also heard that by 6.30pm staff from nearby Four Oaks Nurseries used chainsaws to remove three trees blown over during the storm.
The next morning Mr Barlow, a specialist pain nurse, was on his way to work at Leighton Hospital with his colleague Lisa Goodwin.
Mrs Goodwin, 47, from Macclesfield, described a positive mood in the car because both her and Mr Barlow were soon taking holidays.
She recalled: “I think I remember moments before the crash Dan was trying to reach his driving glasses. The next moment we looked up and the tree was in front of us. Dan swung around the tree into the opposite carriageway. I saw these headlights and Dan tried to change track. The last thing I remember is thinking ‘this is going to hurt’.
Mrs Goodwin was trapped in the car and had to be cut free by firefighters. She sustained multiple injuries which have left her with mobility problems, as well as difficulties with her speech and memory.
Mrs Styles, 44, the driver of the Range Rover, described conditions that morning as dark, wet and windy.
Fighting back tears she told the inquest: “I saw headlights and there was an immediate impact. I didn’t have time to brake.”
Pc Pete McDonough, accident investigator for Cheshire Police, said once the VW Golf had swerved into the path of the Range Rover both drivers had one second to react.
He said: “Mr Barlow was 20m from the tree when he swerved. There was nothing either driver could do. It was a glancing blow: corner hitting corner. In his conclusion Dr Geoff Roberts, assistant Coroner for Cheshire, said Mr Barlow died in an “unavoidable” collision.
THE family of Dan Barlow have paid tribute to a ‘wonderful husband and father who touched the hearts of everyone that he met’.
Dan grew up around the Moss estate and went to Parkroyal Community School before Ryles Park High School.
It was a childhood experience in hospital that inspired Dan to take up a career in nursing.
After leaving school Dan begun his training at Macclesfield Hospital in the theatre recovery department and later at Leighton Hospital as a pain nurse.
During a 10 year career he found his calling in the acute pain service where he helped establish a chronic pain service in the community. At the time of his death he worked at Leighton Hospital in a senior nursing role.
Outside of work Dan was keen mountain biker who loved the outdoors and a talented musician, who would regularly play his guitar for family and friends.
Speaking at his inquest sister Victoria Barlow on behalf of parents Jean and Alan and Dan’s widow Katie, said: “Dan touched everyone that he met. He was the most wonderful husband and father. Our family is finding it difficult to come to terms with the tragic way he died.
“We will miss him dearly.”