Fatal crash driver 'not wearing seat belt'

AN inexperienced young driver with an underinflated tyre broke his back when he lost control of his car and collided with a derelict house. An inquest in Huntingdon last week heard that 17-year-old sales adviser Lewis West, of Palmers Close, Ramsey, who h

AN inexperienced young driver with an underinflated tyre broke his back when he lost control of his car and collided with a derelict house.

An inquest in Huntingdon last week heard that 17-year-old sales adviser Lewis West, of Palmers Close, Ramsey, who had not been wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident in St Mary's Road, Ramsey, on July 10.

Mrs Shani Mawhinney, who had been a passenger in a car travelling slowly in the opposite direction, said she had seen a car "coming towards us quite fast.

"Suddenly it turned to the left in one smooth movement. It was just like turning a corner, but there was no corner there," she told the Coroner, Dr Colin Lattimore.


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She said she had tried to release the driver, but the car had started to smoke. Her husband had fetched a fire extinguisher from the Railway public House, and the fire service and ambulance had arrived shortly afterwards.

The inquest heard from Christopher Thomas, a friend of the dead man, that he and Lewis had been watching a video for about 15 minutes after other friends had left his home in Ramsey St Mary's before Lewis had said he wanted to tidy the flat he was moving out of to return to his parents' home.

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Lewis had split with his girlfriend and could not afford the rent by himself, his friend said in a statement.

PC John Blood said the driver's and passenger's airbags had deployed in the impact, but there was no evidence of the seat belt having been used.

"As it travelled around a left-hand bend, he lost control of the car. It veered to the left, struck the kerb and continued along the verge until it hit the derelict house, causing extensive damage," he added.

The rear offside tyre had been inflated to 12 psi, less than half the recommended pressure of 26psi.

"The low pressure of the rear offside tyre and Lewis's lack of experience may have contributed. It is a matter of speculation what the outcome would have been had a seat belt been worn."

Papworth pathologist Dr Martin Goddard said Lewis had died as a result of a complete fracture dislocation of the thoracic spine. "If he had survived, he would have been paralysed from the diaphragm down," he added.

Dr Lattimore, who said toxicology tests had shown Lewis had not been drinking, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

"The low tyre pressure could have been a likely feature in this accident. The most significant factor in the outcome is that he was not wearing a seat belt," the Coroner said. "He was an inexperienced driver. He was in a good mood. He had been with friends and was looking forward to moving back with his family.

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