Inquest hears teen girls were drinking before fatal A419 crash
TWO teenage girls killed in a horrific accident on the A419 in May this year had been out drinking and were not wearing their seatbelts correctly at the time, an inquest heard today.
Shaya Leigh, 18, and Kerry O'Leary-Staniford, 17, were driving in a silver Renault Clio at around 5am on 18 May with three of their friends in the rear of the car.
The pair had been drinking in Old Town, and Shaya, the driver, was found to be twice the drink drive limit.
They had been checked for ID while in Longs Bar, and produced driving licences.
They went on to collect three friends, who were under the impression they would be going to Kerry's house, although at the time of the crash they were travelling in the opposite direction.
Jordan Gilliver, 20, was a passenger in the car at the time.
"I have no memory of the crash itself," he said. "The day of the crash was my birthday, and the day before I had been at a party. I met a friend at 9pm and at 4.30am was picked up by Shaya. I think the plan was to go back to Kerry's house.
"Although initially I did not have my seat belt on, I put it on because there was a lot of messing about, and Shaya was playing with the brakes. At one point Kerry was dangling her legs out of the window of the car."
Jake Gibbons, 20, described the moment things started to go wrong.
"The car suddenly veered off to the left," he said. "It left the road and started to turn over. I have no memory after that."
John Little was driving along the A419 towards Heathrow with his wife at the time.
"As we approached the Stratton St Margaret turning I noticed something out of the corner of my eye," he said. "I looked out of my window and saw a small hatch back lift about two feet off the ground and roll over toward the drivers side.
"I looked in my rear mirror and saw dust and debris flying up. I braked hard to turn and locate the car, but got lost."
PC James Trafford, collision investigator with Wiltshire Police, attended the scene.
He said: "We benefited from CCTV of the Renault travelling north bound on the A419. The car disappears from view 65 metres prior to the incident. That would have taken two seconds to travel.
"The car was travelling in lane two and had no other traffic around it. There was a heavy braking mark on the road, for which there is no visible reason. It is clear that Shaya braked very hard, hard enough for the lock brakes to kick in. She has then steered to the left harshly, about half a second after putting on the brakes.
"The rear of the car then spun round, and at that point Shaya would not have been able to recover control."
The car careered down the bank to the left of the dual carriageway, coming to a rest 50 metres from the road. A lorry driver 30 seconds behind the Clio saw no trace of an accident when he passed the spot.
"They collided with a tree stump which took the front wheel and suspension away from the body of the car," said PC Trafford.
"That launched the car to the right hand side, and it rotated upside down. It then collided with a slim tree."
The car corkscrewed through the air, flinging three of the passengers out. Kerry was ejected through the windscreen into the path of the stricken vehicle, which then rolled over her, the exhaust pipe causing a deep wound to her spinal tissue, from which she could not recover.
Harry Livingstone, 20, was sitting in the middle rear seat, and was flung through the rear windscreen, ending up underneath the body of the vehicle.
Jake Gibbons is thought to have been thrown out through the sun roof, landing 10 metres from the car.
Shaya was found still in the driving position, but only had her seat belt secured around her lap.
After having attached his seat belt, Jordan was found in his original position.
Officers attended the scene after a call from Mr Little. Debris was found in the path the car had taken, including CDs and mobile phones.
Kerry was conscious as emergency services arrived. She was taken to Great Western Hospital, where she died from her injuries.
The male passengers are now recovering, and Jake and Jordan have recently returned home. They are currently learning how to walk again.
The speed of the car at the time is considered to have been between 73 to 87 miles an hour at the time of braking. The speed limit on the road is 70 miles per hour.
Ian Singleton, assistant coroner for Wiltshire: "This is clearly a tragic incident involving the loss of two young girls' lives.
"I would like to commend officers who attended the scene for preventing further loss of life."
A narrative verdict of death as a result of the road traffic accident was recorded for both victims.