Exmouth helicopter pilot's death remains mystery

THE family of an air ambulance pilot from Exmouth who was killed in a motorbike crash are coming to terms with never knowing the cause of the accident

THE family of an air ambulance pilot from Exmouth who was killed in a motorbike crash are coming to terms with never knowing the cause of the accident.

A lack of marks on the road, or witnesses at the scene, mean the cause of the accident that killed Captain Steve Ford will forever remain a mystery because experts were unable to establish a reason for the crash.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Exeter and Greater Devon deputy coroner Darren Salter said: "Unfortunately we are in the position that the precise cause remains unknown. It could have been a medical or distraction that caused the motorbike to leave the road."

Advanced motorist Captain Steve Ford, of Bradham Lane, died instantly when his black Triumph Tiger suddenly veered off the road on October 18 2008, catapulting the father-of-four through a window of a nearby house.

The 52-year-old had been driving along the B3193 Dunsford to Chudleigh Road when he crashed onto the garage roof of Turnpike Cottage.

The inquest heard how Mr Ford died instantly after suffering multiple injuries.

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Deputy coroner Darren Salter ruled out possible explanations such as suicide or speeding.

In a statement read at the Mr Ford's inquest wife, Julia, said her husband's professionalism and concern for others' welfare meant he always rode within the legal speed limit and would have stopped the bike if there had been a problem, or he had felt unwell.

Speaking to the Journal after the inquest she said it had 'helped' knowing he remained professional to the end.

Son Antony said: "We will never know the cause of the accident.

"That comes with the difficulty of anybody's death. It's very difficult to come to terms with.

"The circumstances of the whole thing were very difficult in the first place so making assumptions wasn't something we did."

Devon and Cornwall police forensic collision investigator MPC Malcolm Passmore said Mr Ford could have lost consciousness or suffered a panic attack immediately before the crash.

He said a cruise control device fitted on Mr Ford's motorbike throttle could have explained why the vehicle retained its speed.

Turnpike Cottage owner John Botwright told the inquest of the moment he discovered Mr Ford in his first floor bedroom.

He said: "I heard a sudden, explosive noise, like a large firework.

"I could see no trace of the driver in the garage or driveway.

I then saw the first-floor bedroom window had been demolished along with the garage roof.

"There was a one-metre hole in the side of the house. I realised then that the driver must have been thrown into the upstairs bedroom."

* Leave your tribute to Steve Ford at www.exmouthjournal.co.uk