A British Airways engineer was found unconscious moments after his van was hit by a truck on the runway at Heathrow Airport, an inquest has heard.
John Coles, 44, died after waiting over an hour for a paramedic to arrive on a bicycle after a crash at the west London airport on Valentine's Day 2018.
Around an hour after the collision, Mr Coles went into cardiac arrest due to internal bleeding and never woke up, West London Coroner's Court heard yesterday (July 17).
Inquest jurors were told how moments after the incident, a colleague who called Heathrow's emergency 222 number said he recalled telling responders Mr Coles had been knocked out.
But, after questions from London Ambulance Service (LAS) and Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) lawyers, the witness, Bhupinder Sandu, admitted he was unsure about what he had said on the call.
Mr Coles had worked for British Airways (BA) at Heathrow for 28 years when he was fatally injured in a collision on the runway just before 6am on 14 February 2018.
His Renault Kangoo van, operated by BA, collided with a Toyota Hilux operated by HAL. The popular music lover complained of chest and shoulder pain, but it took "some time" for an ambulance to arrive, the inquest jury was told.
Pathologist Dr Hiam Ali concluded Mr Coles died of multiple injuries, including a torn aorta, due to the damaging effects of splintered ribs broken by the impact of the crash.
She dismissed the view of an LAS advanced paramedic who thought the broken ribs may have been due to chest compressions delivered in his emergency treatment.
Dr Ali also told jurors that Mr Coles had only managed to survive for an hour because the rib that ripped apart his aorta had probably become lodged inside it, preventing him bleeding quickly.
Dr Ali said: "It is extremely unlikely Mr Coles would have survived the aortic injury."
Mr Sandu, a BA ramp agent, was loading cargo onto planes at Ramp 557 from around 4:30am on the morning of the incident.
Mr Sandu told jurors. "I heard a really big bang. When we looked at the taxiway the [the white Renault] was rolling through. It stopped and the horn was bleeping, and the Hilux was standing in the middle of the taxiway."
Mr Sandu recalled walking to the car and asking Mr Coles: "Sir, are you okay?" He told jurors he never got an answer.
Mr Sandu continued: "He was unconscious. I walked back to [Ramp] 556 because there was a telephone booth. I dialled 222, I got through to a lady. I was speaking to someone based at Heathrow Airport. Their response was they already knew about it.
"I told this lady one of the people involved was unconscious. I went to get another colleague to get the HAL driver, but the HAL driver got out of his car and was on the radio."
But Mr Sandu's recollection of events was challenged by lawyers for LAS and HAL.
A representative for LAS asked: "Is it possible you rang to tell them about the incident and when they said they knew about it, that's where you finished?" Mr Sandu replied: "I think I told them. I'm pretty sure I told them he's not responding."
A representative for HAL pointed out that the control room at Heathrow had told LAS there were "no serious injuries" after Mr Sandu's call, then asked the witness again if he had passed on the relevant information.
Summarising Mr Sandu's revised position, Coroner David Furniss said: "He probably did and he can't be sure."
Mr Sandu also told jurors he believed there was no speed limit for vehicles crossing the taxiways at the time of the crash in 2018, and that the advice was to cross "as quickly as possible".
An advocate for Mr Coles' family said: "At the time of the accident, your understanding was you could drive at any speed between the crossing?" Mr Sandu replied: "Yes."
He also said he had known another vehicle to travel at 70mph, but was told by someone from BA about the 20mph speed limit after Mr Coles' death.
When asked if it came as a surprise to him when he was told the speed limit was 20mph, Mr Sandu replied: "Yes."
Later, Mr Sandu was quizzed by an HAL lawyer who said there was "no misunderstanding", but at the time of the accident Mr Sandu "should have known" about the speed limit.
The HAL lawyer said: "When you said earlier there was no speed limit, what you meant was you did not know that there was a speed limit."
Mr Coles' brother, Mark Coles, and colleague Gary Higgins also gave evidence, sharing their memories with the jury.
Mark said: "John was the kind of guy who would say: 'Anyone want to go to this concert?' then buy 20 tickets upfront and collect the money later, he was just that kind of guy."
Mr Higgins said: "He had an innocence about him that he carried through life. He grew into a popular and well-loved engineer. At BA you either knew John, or you knew of John. He was generous and good-natured, if you needed it and he had it, it was yours."
The inquest continues with a conclusion expected later this week.