Prince's Flying Tutor Died In Bike Crash

Prince William's flying tutor was killed in a high-speed motorcycle crash as he tried to overtake a truck which failed to indicate it was turning right, an inquest heard today.

James Hassell was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on the A417 near Faringdon, Oxfordshire, on March 10 last year.

The 36-year-old lived in Middle Wallop, Hampshire,

The inquest, at Oxford Coroner's Court, heard the ''very distinguished helicopter pilot and instructor'' was also a keen motorcyclist who enjoyed going for long motorbike rides around the countryside at weekends with his friend and colleague Matthew Coverley.

Mr Coverley told the hearing he and Mr Hassell, known as Jim, had just left the village of Faringdon and were travelling down the narrow country lane when he noticed a green truck travelling about 300 metres in front of them at around 9.35am on the Saturday.

He said Mr Hassell was around 6-10m in front of him, with his own motorbike staggered to the left of his bike.

As they approached the vehicle he said they both accelerated to between 70-80mph in order to overtake it but the truck then began to turn right into a farm entrance without indicating, slowing down or appearing to notice them.

Mr Coverley said: ''I didn't see any indication on the truck, neither prior to or as it turned.

''Jim steered towards the left of the carriageway to attempt to avoid the truck.

''The truck was travelling in a continual motion, as if it has not seen Jim.

''In my mind it was all in slow motion.

''I saw Jim's body hit the truck. I continued to break hard, stopping at the side of the road.''

Mr Coverley said he was sure that the driver of the truck had not used his indicator.

''Both Jim and I are experienced riders and we always look for indications and we would not even attempt to overtake if we thought the truck was turning,'' he said.

But giving his own evidence, the truck's driver, Polish national Marek Kucala, told the inquest that he had seen one of the motorcycles and had indicated that he was turning.

He said: ''I indicated much earlier, before the entrance to Manor Farm as I knew where I was about to turn.

''The first time I checked my mirrors I didn't see anyone.

''When I moved to the centre of the road I checked the mirrors for the second time and I noticed the motorcycle.''

Speaking through an interpreter, he said that as he saw the motorcycle was trying to overtake him he then tried to swerve back to the left side of the road to let him pass.

''It's really difficult to describe as all of it happened in a fraction of a second,'' he added.

Mr Hassell, who was based at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, gave the Duke of Cambridge helicopter flight training five years ago.