A much-loved husband and father was just weeks away from returning home after a stint working in South Korea when he was killed by an uninsured, speeding motorcyclist, an inquest heard.
Stephen Eaton, 60, of Hillcrest Drive, Little Sutton had been living in the East Asian country as a temporary resident, working as an instrument lead engineer as his firm was building a rig.
His wife Elaine, who often spent time in the country with him, told the inquest at Chester Magistrates Court that he would regularly witness ‘terrible’ road traffic collisions on South Korea’s busy roads and had even been dubbed ‘the Grim Reaper’ by some of his work colleagues because he would regularly bring them news of accidents he’d seen.
It was ‘ironic’, she said, that would end up losing his life in similar circumstances shortly before he was due to return home the following month.
The inquest heard that on the evening of November 1, 2014, Mr Eaton had been out to get something to eat with some friends from work before setting off for the walk home at about 9.30pm.
He had been working long hours and his wife said she thought he was probably keen to get back to watch a Liverpool FC game when he approached a busy road on a bend. As he tried to cross, a young motorcyclist who was uninsured, and did not have permission to ride the vehicle, came down the hill ‘at some speed’ and did not see Mr Eaton trying to cross the road.
Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg said, in all probability, Mr Eaton would have been killed on impact due to the speed of the motorcycle.
The rider, who had not been wearing a crash helmet, was badly injured and was in hospital for a period of time following the incident, before being arrested and subsequently jailed.
A post mortem examination on Mr Eaton confirmed he died of a traumatic brain injury resulting from a motor vehicle collision.
Confirming this as the cause of death, Mr Rheinberg expressed his condolences to Mr Eaton’s family before telling the court: “The facts are simple - this is a disaster that occurred on November 1, 2014. Mr Eaton was a temporary resident of South Korea and had gone for a meal and drink with colleagues before walking home.
“He had to cross a busy road, which was on a bend with limited visibility. An uninsured young motorcyclist driving at some speed collided with him. Mr Eaton was officially pronounced dead at hospital a short time later.
“I therefore conclude that Mr Eaton died as a result of a road traffic collision."