Death of Sutton school’s ex-caretaker may have been caused by epileptic seizure of Land Rover driver

The school where he use to work.
The school where he use to work.

The family of a Sutton school caretaker who died in a head-on road collision in Ravenshead are hoping to change the rules on epilepsy sufferers who drive.

John Young, 72, who had been caretaker of Priestsic Primary School, Sutton, was driving on the A60 near Ravenshead with  his wife Veronica, also 72, was in the front passenger seat.

The couple were in a head-on collision with a vehicle driven by Damon Geeson, who feared he had a fit when approaching a bend on the A60.

At the hearing into Mr Young’s death his family was told that his Landrover Discovery appeared to have gone straight ahead and crashed head-on with a car driven by Mr Young.

Mr Young died at the roadside and his wife Veronica after the collision needed six months in hospital.   

Assistant coroner Ivan Cartwright’s conclusion was that Mr Young’s death was the result of a road traffic collision shortly after noon on April 22 last year. 

In summing up the evidence, the coroner said Mr Geeson’s epilepsy was controlled by prescribed medication.

His driving licence was withdrawn after he reported an earlier problem on the roads. But later it was restored and he began driving again. 

This was because a doctor reported “seizure freedom for more than two years” and that he was “settled on medication.” But this could be affected by “stress or alcohol.” 

The coroner said: “The balance of evidence suggests Mr Geeson complied with the licensing registration.” 

Medics did not ban alcohol with the medication but said there was “a small risk of a breakthrough seizure.” The inquest was told that Mr Geeson of Ravenshead had some lager the night before the crash. He does not plan to drive again. 

Mr Cartwright added: “As far as he is concerned, this incident is something he will live with for the rest of his life. I fully appreciate John doesn’t have that luxury.  

“This was a sad and needless death, being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” 

After the hearing, Mr Young’s family said they plan to contact Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero in an effort to highlight the weakness in the law.  

Nephew John Blount, 43, said: “We accept this matter is closed and accept the findings of the inquest. We believe going forward, the rules about driving with  epilepsy should be made tighter with more specific guidelines.

“At the moment, the system seems to be self-regulating,” he added.

Mr Young’s sister-in-law Pauline Edwards, 71, said: “We are a nice close family, all happy to go on holidays together and this has been terrible.

“Veronica was in intensive care at the QMC, then the City Hospital and then King’s Mill. We thought we were going to lose her and she is still recovering.”

Niece  Katrina Daft, 54, said: “John was a very colourful character, a lot of fun. When I took the children to school where he was caretaker, he used to sing ‘Have you seen her? Have you seen Twina?’ That was his name for me. Even the headmaster remembers him singing that.”

John’s sister Maureen Flint, 80, added: “Everybody knew him in Kirkby. He was well liked and always had a bit of banter. He loves horse racing.” Her husband Barry, 82, said: “He is badly missed.”