MOTORISTS have told an inquest about being involved in one of the worst British motorway pile-ups in living memory.
Newport grandparents Anthony, 73, and Pamela Adams, 70, were among the seven people killed in a series of crashes between 34 vehicles on the southbound carriageway of the M5, near Taunton, Somerset on the evening of November 3, 2011.
TNT lorry driver Perry Meade told the inquest at Shire Hall in Taunton yesterday how his vehicle was struck three times in just five seconds.
Mr Meade had seen brake lights in front of him so had stopped his lorry and was just about to apply his handbrake when he was struck from behind.
The collision happened at 8.20pm just five minutes after a £3,000 fireworks display concluded just 200ft away at Taunton rugby club.
Peter Hynds, who was driving an Iceland lorry to Swindon, described becoming “confused and disorientated” after “looking into a scene of complete darkness”.
“The smoke was extremely thick and I could not see through it,” he said in a statement.
“I have driven through mist and fog but never anything like this.”
Peter Davey, a collision investigator, said that accounts from witnesses to the length of the fog - described in court as an “area of reduced visibility” - differed but in his view it must have been more than 110 metres (120 yards) in length.
He said he come to that conclusion after examining various witness statements from survivors.
As well as Mr and Mrs Adams, father and daughter Michael, 67, and Maggie Barton, 30, from Windsor, Berkshire; battle re-enactor Malcolm Beacham, 46, from Woolavington, Somerset; and lorry drivers Terry Brice, 55, from South Gloucestershire, and Kye Thomas, 38, from Cornwall all died in the pile-up.
Geoffrey Counsell, 51, who had been operating the display at the rugby club, was cleared at Bristol Crown Court of breaching health and safety laws on the night of the accident.