Inquest into death of ‘adoring father’

A LOVING brother has paid tribute to a ‘real family man’ who died after walking into the path on an oncoming lorry on the A27.

Alan Potter, a 45-year-old father of two from Portsmouth, was suffering from depression at the time of his death, an inquest heard on Tuesday.

“He ran from a standing start into the middle of the carriageway,” said Andrew Day, the lorry driver who hit Mr Potter three-and-a-half miles outside Chichester.

“I was looking for something that would warrant him running out – something important enough to retrieve.

“I didn’t see the lay-by where his car was parked until I was on top of it. It was dark.

“I eased off the throttle – but I was fully loaded with plaster board so couldn’t stamp on the brakes. I would’ve jack-knifed.

“He ran out, saw I was boxed in and took a step back in my path. I was in shock.”

The inquest heard Mr Potter had already stepped out in front of traffic earlier in the morning of January 22.

Van driver Andrew Norris was driving down the eastbound carriageway towards Chichester when he saw a dark figure step out into the road in front of him.

“As Alan was coming towards me I had nowhere else to go, but I managed to make that extra move to go around him,” said Mr Norris.

“He braced himself. He was surprised, he thought there was going to be a collision. I didn’t know what he was doing.”

During the inquest into Mr Potter’s death, held at Edes House in Chichester, the court heard how Mr Potter, who was divorced, had ‘seemed sad’ the night before his death.

“He said he felt suicidal in the past,” said Amy Jennings, Mr Potter’s lodger. “He said it was his children who had kept him going. He was very close to his family.”

Mr Potter, who was a cable layer for Southern Electric, was reviewed by mental-health teams just days before his death.

Dean Potter paid tribute to his brother Alan, praising his ‘get up and go attitude to life’. “He was proud and independent. My brother would drop everything to help a friend or family member. He adored his boys. He was a fantastic provider.

“He found going through his divorce hard. He didn’t want tea and sympathy, he just wanted someone to listen to him. He was starting to enjoy life more. He enjoyed boys’ toys and having fun.”

Mr Potter said the last time his brother and nephews came round they had a cup of tea and parted with the normal ‘see you later’.

Recording a verdict of suicide, Elisabeth Bussey-Jones, deputy assistant coroner, said Mr Potter’s death was ‘extremely sad’. “Our thoughts go to all of you, and also to his two sons who have lost a father and a life with him,” she said.

Mrs Bussey-Jones praised the courage and efforts of everyone at the scene, including a 14-year-old boy who tried to revive Mr Potter.