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'Pals died in horrific bike crash'

By Lynsey Bradford, Town Reporter Sunday 16th September 2012

Two motorcyclists on a European tour died in a horrific accident, an inquest was told.


Alan Mills, 56, of Ash Road, Shafton, and Robert Taylor, 50, of Sheffield Road, Penistone, were on the A13 in Splügen, Switzerland, when they were involved in a collision with a German motorcyclist on May 31 last year.


Mr Mills’ motorcycle was ‘completely burnt out’ and Mr Taylor was thrown into the air.


They died of multiple injuries.


Mr Mills and Mr Taylor were with a party of eight on separate bikes who had gone on a motorcycling trip through various European countries to celebrate Mr Taylor and friend Chris Bird’s 50th birthdays.


Michael Buckingham, who was with the party from Barnsley, was also injured in the collision.


He told the court the group set off at between 9am to 9.30am on May 31.


He said he remembered riding through the Alps, stopping to take photographs and  for food.


After they entered Switzerland, Mr Buckingham said he saw some of the party overtaking a red car and was shocked to see Mr Mills pull out.


He added: “Mr Mills just pulled out to the opposite side of the road. He must have been overtaking.


“As we approached a corner I saw another bike coming round and saw both bikes had seen each other.


“I think there was a fraction of a second where they did hit their brakes and then they collided.


“I can’t remember anything from that collision. I imagine I looked away, I knew there were going to be consequences didn’t have the opportunity to stop or pull away.


“I felt a thud from the left hand side and then I was sliding down the road.


“I can remember coming to a standstill and hearing the sounds of burning bikes but I didn’t see any flames.”


The German motorcyclist, Matya Ewald, was also seriously injured and had no recollection of the accident.


Chris Bird, who had successfully overtaken the red car, said one of the party received a phone call telling them of the crash after they pulled over to wait for the others.


He added: “We overtook the car quite a way before the bend.


“I saw another car to our left and then a blue BMW bike coming at speed.”


He said they pulled up on a slip road when they received a phone call to say there had been a horrific accident and to go back.


“It seemed like less than a mile but then it seemed like a long way after the phone call.”


He said the total mileage for the trip was between 1,800 and 2,000 miles, but it had been organised with the option of taking a long route or a shorter route, and that there was no rush to get to the next place.


Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Julian Fox said: “It’s quite clear that both men were much loved and that their deaths have cause a great deal of pain and I would like to extend my condolences to all the families especially and to the friends.”

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