Boss's death a 'freak accident'
The managing director at Birmingham International Airport died in a "freak accident" as he headed to work from his Shropshire home, an inquest heard.
South Shropshire coroner Anthony Sibcy said the death of Richard Heard, 49, of Bramble Ridge, Bridgnorth, early on January 18, was the result of a number of "unlikely factors".
At an inquest at Bridgnorth Town Hall yesterday, he recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Dr Mark Otter, consultant pathologist, said Mr Heard died from severe multiple injuries after being impaled by a tree branch and would have died almost instantly.
Witnesses said it appeared Mr Heard's BMW had collided with a tree which had fallen on to the B4373 Bridgnorth to Broseley road near to the Stanley Lane turning.
Neil Mumford, who had been driving towards Stanley Lane, said: "I saw the lights coming towards me and saw him veering over to my side of the road. It hit me and carried on. It went past me and started rolling back. I got out and saw the branch through the windscreen."
Mr Sibcy read a statement by tree expert Ray Finch who said the ash tree had fallen on to the road because of high winds and rotten roots. There was no way an assessment by Shropshire County Council could have revealed the damaged roots because the base of the tree was obscured by a bush.
Summing up Mr Sibcy said: "Mr Heard's death was a terrible freak accident which occurred when a number of unlikely factors all came together that early morning."
The accident happened during fierce storms that left 13 people dead.