'Impossible to say' exactly where fatal collision between Sunderland and South Tyneside bikers took place

A coroner said it was “impossible to say” with any certainty exactly where on a road a fatal collision between two motorcyclists took place.

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 1:19 pm

Sunderland-born Frazer Golden, 30, died almost instantly from head, neck and chest injuries following the incident nearly three-and-a-half years ago.

County Durham and Darlington Coroner’s Court heard there was a “glancing blow” between the two bikes and that both could have been on their respective sides of a central white line at the time of the initial impact between their handle bars.

Honda rider Mr Golden, from Seaham, then crashed into a stone wall and lamp-post on the A689, near St John’s Chapel, Weardale, at around 2pm on April 9, 2017.

Sunderland-born Frazer Golden died in a road traffic collision in April 2017.

Assistant coroner James Thompson said he could not consider an unlawful killing verdict as it would have been inconsistent with the Durham Crown Court outcome.

While accepting it was “more likely than not” that Mr Frost’s Yamaha crossed the single carriageway’s white line, he added: “Even on the balance of probabilities, I cannot say with any certainty where the motor bikes were at the point of impact.”

The three-day inquest heard that Nissan maintenance worker Mr Golden was returning from Alston, in Cumbria, towards St John’s Chapel with friend Simon McKenzie riding ahead of him.

Nissan worker Frazer Golden, originally from Sunderland, was enjoying a ride in the Durham Dales when the fatal collision took place.

Mechanic Mr Frost, who described himself as an experienced rider, told the coroner’s court he was “spooked” when Mr McKenzie passed close to him as he approached a bend while travelling in the opposite direction.

Laura Taylor, who was out riding with Mr Frost and travelling behind him, said she then saw his break lights flick.

Reviewing the evidence, Mr Thompson said: “On the balance of probabilities, it is more likely than not that the breaking of Mr Frost’s bike took him across the white line.”

Stephen Rowlands, from Sunderland, who was travelling behind Mr Golden with a separate group of riders, said Mr Frost “slightly misjudged” the bend as he was travelling too fast.

Dan and Linda Golden, of Chapel Garth, Sunderland, with a photograph of their late son, Frazer Golden, were praised for their dignity by the coroner investigating their son's death.

But Mr Frost, who said he was travelling at around 50 miles per hour in a 60 miles per hour zone, told the inquest he believed he could have safely ridden even faster at that point.

The court was told Mr Golden, who was described by Mr McKenzie as “a safe rider”, was travelling in the centre of his side of the carriageway and could not avoid the collision.

Witnesses and accident investigators put his speed as anywhere between 30-40 miles per hour.

Tests later revealed that neither Mr Golden or Mr Frost had alcohol or drugs present in their systems.

Recording that Mr Golden died as a result of a road traffic collision, Mr Thompson said: “It is impossible to say, even on the balance of probabilities, where the collision occurred.”

He praised Mr Golden’s family, including parents Dan and Linda, from Chapel Garth, and girlfriend Helen Gaughan, who were present throughout the Crook inquest, “for conducting yourselves with great dignity”.

Addressing Mr and Mrs Golden about “that terrible day”, he added: “To lose someone, your son, at such an early age is a tragedy.”

The Goldens afterwards thanked Mr Thompson for giving them “the fairest decision he could under the circumstances”, adding: “The inquest has shown that Frazer was riding correctly and was a good rider.”

A message from the Editor:

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to the Sunderland Echo website and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app.

With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Visit here to sign up. You can subscribe to the newspaper with 20% off here. Thank you.