Huntingdon drink driver killed after colliding with tree

Court heard how Lee Curling died after crashing into a tree

Court heard how Lee Curling died after crashing into a tree - Credit: Archant

A driver who was two and half times over the legal alcohol limit died after crashing into a tree, an inquest heard.

Lee Curling, of Saunders Close, Huntingdon, was killed when the white Vauxhall van combo he was driving left the road and crashed near Corpus Christi Farm, on the B1043 Offord Road, Godmanchester on March 26.

An inquest held at Lawrence Court, Huntingdon today (September 10) heard that the 42-year-old’s van had earlier been involved in a collision near The Bell pub in Great Paxton with a BMW driven by Nicholas Hall five minutes prior to the incident.

In a statement read by Simon Milburn, assistant coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, on behalf of the BMW’s driver Mr Hall, he said: “I had been to collect my daughter at a swimming pool in Godmanchester at 8.30pm.

“Whilst I was driving through Great Paxton I saw a van that was swerving towards my side of the road. I tried to get out of the way but he had hit and scraped my car.”

Mr Curling proceeded to drive away from the incident and was followed by Mr Hall out of Great Paxton and through Buckden while he called Cambridgeshire police to tell them what was happening.

Mr Hall then followed Mr Curling into Offord Cluny at that point his “vehicle disappeared over a hill.”

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In Mr Hall’s statement, he said: “He must have floored it as by the time I got to the junction I couldn’t see the van.”

When Mr Hall got to Offord Road, near Corpus Christi Farm, he saw something on his right hand side in the ditch.

As he approached the vehicle he couldn’t see anyone inside so went back to his car to his phone to shine the torch.

Returning to the car Mr Hall saw Mr Curling slumped over the van’s steering wheel, he tried to remove him from the vehicle but both doors were locked and waited for emergency services to arrive.

The police then arrived at the incident and dragged Mr Curling out of a broken window as they were unable to open either of the doors.

CPR was then performed by PC Alan Bradshaw before the air ambulance arrived and paramedics took over but he was declared dead at the roadside at 9.40pm.

Collision investigator PC Ian Gray, who attended the scene, told the court: “At the location of the incident there is a right hand bend. The driver does not follow the road so by this time he is on the verge, his reaction to that is now to steer to the right.

“He then travels across both lanes but impacts with the tree.”

When asked whether Mr Curling was wearing a seatbelt by the coroner, PC Gray added: “There were no friction marks and no factual evidence to say that he was wearing a seatbelt.”

At the time of his death the Anglian Water employee was found to have 176 milligrams to 100 millilitres of blood which is more than twice over the legal limit of 80.

Mr Milburn recorded a narrative conclusion to Mr Curling’s death that it was “clear he was under the influence of alcohol and was probably not wearing a seatbelt.”