Chippenham teenager run over in horrific party accident, inquest told
3:09pm Wednesday 26th September 2012 in By Alex Winter
A teenager walking home from a party a few days before Christmas was killed when he lay down in front of his friend's car and was run over, an inquest heard today.
Toby Hearne, who had only celebrated his 17th birthday the previous day, suffered catastrophic chest injuries and died at the scene.
The student had been at a house party dressed as a Christmas present in the village of Stanton St Quintin, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, on the night of December 21 last year.
The inquest in Trowbridge heard that the driver of the Fiat Punto, who was a friend of Toby's, was not to blame for the accident just as he was unaware the 17-year-old had lain down in front of him.
A post mortem examination found that Toby had died from compression of the chest.
The keen rugby player had a blood alcohol level of 159mg per 100ml of blood. The legal drink drive limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood
Ian Singleton, assistant deputy coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, recorded a verdict of accidental death saying Toby's judgment had been impaired by the amount of alcohol he had consumed.
"We heard from the pathologist that the toxicology revealed a level of alcohol that was nearly twice the drink drive limit," Mr Singleton said.
"We heard from a number of witnesses that Toby was in high spirits and was as drunk if not more as in previous occasions.
"He was walking unaided and committed various acts, such as falling over deliberately and riding on the bonnet of a car without causing himself any apparent injury.
"I heard evidence from one of the group outside the car, who had a clear view, that without warning or comment Toby lay down in front of the car while the driver was talking to other members of the group.
"Before the witness had a chance to say or do anything the driver moved off with the front wheels of the Fiat passing over Toby.
"Due to the shouting of those from outside the car the vehicle quickly came to a halt.
"There is no evidence to suggest that the driver was aware of Toby's presence or deliberately drove over him.
"I note the conclusion reached in the collision investigation report that this was a tragic incident that occurred as a result of Toby placing himself on the ground in front of the car in such a position that the driver could not see him.
"On the balance of probabilities I find that Toby's actions and assessment of risks that he was placing himself at were affected by the level of alcohol he had consumed impairing his critical judgment capability.
"The appropriate verdict would be of accidental death, which is not in any way to trivialise Toby's death, but reflects the fact it came about as an unintended consequence of a deliberate act on his part."
The inquest heard from several of Toby's friends, who said they had met up at Hal Bailey's house before walking the short distance to the party being hosted by local villager James Melvin.
Youcef Adjerid, 18, the driver of the black Fiat, had been working that night and so arrived late at the party, just 15 minutes before it ended at midnight.
Youcef, who had only passed his driving test two weeks earlier, was giving Scott Laing and another teenager a lift back to Chippenham in his car.
Toby and Hal, together with friends Sam Riley and Joe Bodman, both 18, decided to walk the three-minute journey back to Hal's house, where they were all staying.
As they walked along the lane, Youcef drove up behind them and stopped.
The inquest heard that both Sam and Toby decided to climb on to the bonnet of Youcef's car and take it in turns to "car surf" as he drove along at walking pace.
Joe told the hearing: "Sam and Toby were both on the bonnet of Youcef's car and Youcef drove and Sam fell off and Toby got off.
"Youcef drove off and so we carried on walking along the road."
A minute later, Toby and his friends caught up with the Fiat again as Scott had left his wallet at Hal's house and wanted to collect it.
The teenagers were talking to the occupants of the car when Toby lay down in the front of the car.
Hal, 18, told the inquest: "As I walked up towards my house and turned back, I saw him lying in front of the bonnet.
"I saw clearly what happened. I saw him lay down but no one in the car had seen that he had gone to the floor. I thought he was joking about.
"Youcef was talking to Sam at the driver's window and I don't think he had seen Toby lying on the floor as otherwise he wouldn't have driven off."
The teenager told the hearing he did not have a chance to shout and alert Youcef to the danger.
"It happened so quickly. He went down and it was probably a second or two seconds before the car moved off," he said.
"I think Toby may have been laughing as a joke but I don't think he said anything."
Sam told the inquest: "I think I said to Youcef 'I think you've run Toby over' but I knew he had hit him and that's when Youcef got out of the car.
"He was really shocked and didn't believe it.
"I bent down and touched his leg and tried talking to Toby but obviously there was no response."