Driver fell asleep and smashed into oncoming car

A van driver fell asleep at the wheel with his head slumped on the window before smashing into an oncoming car in Fife.

Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 11:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 1:03 pm
The crash happened on the B981. Picture: Google
The crash happened on the B981. Picture: Google

A motorcyclist swerved out of the way when he saw James Combe’s vehicle coming towards him.

However, a horrified car driver then saw the van drifting further over the road.

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Combe’s eyes were closed and he woke up just before the crash which sent the car spinning up into the air and into a cemetery wall.

Combe (37) was found guilty of dangerous driving after a trial at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.

He had denied that on April 24 last year on the B981 Lochgelly to Cardenden road he drove a van dangerously, fell asleep whilst driving, on to the opposing carriageway into the path of a motorcycle causing the rider to take evasive action and then collided with a car causing damage to it and injury to the driver.

Self-employed roofing contractor Combe, then of Dallas Drive, Kirkcaldy, has since moved to Bonnyrigg. He was driving from Glenrothes to pick up his apprentice in Lochgelly when the collision occurred.

Motorcyclist Mark Taylor (44) told the court that he had a narrow escape and had to swerve out of the way.

“His eyes were closed and his head was slumped to the side, against the window,” said the wtiness.

“I thought he was sleeping. He veered over the white lines. I swerved to get out of the way. If I didn’t take evasive action he’d have hit me.

“I looked at him and was thinking, ‘Where are you going pal?’.

“The car behind me had no place to go. I knew there was going to be a collision. The car went up like a projectile, spun around and hit against the wall of the cemetery.”

Lukas Nedza (21) was the driver of the car and had to be cut free by the fire service.

He told the court he saw Combe coming towards him with his eyes closed, then he opened them just before the collision.

He tried to get out of the way but there was nowhere to go. He managed to avoid a head- on collision but his vehicle was struck on the side.

He was taken to hospital with bruising and suffered from pain to his chest, back, neck and shoulder for weeks afterwards.

Combe told the court he had heard a “shearing” noise and had put his head down trying to pinpoint where the sound was coming from.

He denied he had fallen asleep and maintained his head was to the side because of him trying to detect the source of the noise.

Depute fiscal Dev Kapadia said Combe’s version of events was “far-fetche if not fanciful”.

Sheriff James MacDonald said Combe’s story contained “inherent inconsistencies” and was “implausible”.

Combe was fined £1000 and banned from driving for two years and until he passes the extended test.

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