Izaak Matthew Kennedy-Cowell: Teenage motorcyclist could not have avoided fatal collision with tractor on Preston Road says coroner

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A coroner has concluded that an accident in Grimsargh, near Preston, in which a teenage motorcyclist died could not have been avoided.

An inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court on Tuesday was told that Izaak Matthew Kennedy-Cowell,19, died from multiple injuries after a collision with a tractor on Preston Road.

The accident happened at around 9.10pm on September 13, 2021 as Fred Noone, 16, was driving a tractor home after work. Motorcyclist Izaak was overtaking vehicles on Preston Road and Fred was turning into Preston Road from a side lane. Izaak was pronounced dead at the scene.

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The court was told Izaak was driving a Honda motorcycle. Fred, a full time apprentice dairy stockman with S.Forshaw and Sons had passed his tractor test in March 2021 and was used to driving tractors and had driven the John Deere tractor regularly.

Izaak Matthew Kennedy-Cowell was described by his mum as "a well loved young man whose life ended too soon." (Photo supplied by his family.)Izaak Matthew Kennedy-Cowell was described by his mum as "a well loved young man whose life ended too soon." (Photo supplied by his family.)
Izaak Matthew Kennedy-Cowell was described by his mum as "a well loved young man whose life ended too soon." (Photo supplied by his family.)

Area Coroner Richard Taylor read out details from Fred’s statement in which he said he had his tractor headlamps on and had stopped at the junction of Preston Road to check if anything was coming. Fred recalled: “I turned left pulling out, within a couple of seconds I heard a lond bang. I didn’t know what had happened. I do not know where the motorcyclist came from. I didn’t see or here anything.”

The coroner detailed how Fred had started work milking cows at 8am and completed other yard jobs before using the tractor and harrow attachment on farm fields. The latter task continued throughout the day apart from milking and Fred had been happy to work late while the weather was good and had been working on a field near Alston Lane, before deciding to drive home in the tractor, as he was permitted to do.

Witness Rune Borgen detailed how when driving home from Preston towards Longridge with his family that night traffic had slowed with a queue forming behind a car which was travelling a little under the speed limit. Glancing in his mirror he has seen a motorbike overtaking vehicles and commented to his wife: “Where did he come from? I didn’t see him.”

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He continued: "I thought he was going to get in behind me and when he didn't I saw the tractor coming round the corner and I thought he was not going to avoid that. He was going at such a speed I realised he wasn’t going to be able to brake to get in behind me.”

Mr Borgen said it was going dark and visibility was good but at a certain point on the road you could not clearly see the junction where the tractor turned out because of a property.

PC Brendan Williams of Lancashire Constabulary’s Collisions Investigations Unit based at Samlesbury arrived at the scene 20 to 30 minutes after the accident. He said there were no defects or contaminants on the road surface, there was a light drizzle but the road surface was dry and the road markings on the main road were good. They were less good on the side road, but despite their poor state of repair it was still possible to see give way markings. He said it would have been possible to get a good view of the junction and tractor, a high vehicle, from Preston Road, “but only if you’re looking in the right place”.

Giving his conclusion, the coroner cited the police evidence and said death was due to the injuries sustained in the road traffic accident as Izaak was overtaking.

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He said: “It’s likely that both (Izaak and Fred) had completed their respective manoeuvres at the same time, both assuming it was safe to do so. Mr Noone driving the tractor had permission to drive the mile to his home.

"Izaak acquired the motorcycle and was driving without insurance, but not doing anything particularly wrong apart from not (being) insured. He might have misjudged his overtaking manoeuvre, he might have been going a little too fast at that time, although I heard from PC Williams it was hard to assess just how fast he was going. He didn’t see the tractor. The tractor didn’t see him. The tractor was travelling at a very slow speed 6 mph. Izaak on his motorcycle did not have any opportunity in my view to avoid that collision.”

After the inquest Izaak’s mother Izzy Kennedy said her son, a former Longridge High School pupil, had been well loved and was much missed.

She said: “Izaak was a well loved young man whose life ended too soon. He is much missed by his mother and older brother Connor Smith and the rest of the family. He is missed greatly by all his family.”

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At the inquest concerns were raised through a representative of Izaak’s family about the purchase of motorcycles without insurance or a licence and whether responsibility should be put on the seller to ensure those legal requirements are met before enabling a sale. This was, said the representative, to see if the coroner could make any recommendations .

The coroner said it was not something he could make a “determination” on and that a vehicle had to be owned before it could be taxed or the driver insured. He added it would be extremely difficult to police something like that, particularly with private purchases.

Questions were also asked about health and safety regulations and the length of a working day, but the court was told the Health and Safety Executive had been contacted about the accident and had not raised any concerns.