Road rage crash kills two, leaves one with brain injuries

PUBLISHED: 10:00 26 September 2013

The inquest was held in Taunton.

The inquest was held in Taunton.

Archant

TWO people were killed and a man left with serious brain injuries after a ‘grossly negligent’ driver crashed his car into another at 70mph on the wrong side of the road.

Vincent Atkinson, aged 31 and from Cheddar, was two-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit when his car collided with Richard Parker’s on October 7 last year, an inquest heard.

The crash happened at around 2.30am on the A371 near Axbridge, leaving Mr Atkinson’s passenger with brain injuries and killing himself and Mr Parker, aged 35 also from Cheddar, instantly.

West Somerset coroner Michael Rose described how the two cars collided with ‘terrifying results’ and described the incident as ‘gross criminal negligence’ during Thursday’s hearing.

One 15-year-old witness said in a statement read out at the inquest: “It was horrifying. I don’t want to see anything like this again. I had nightmares afterwards, and didn’t leave the house for three or four days.”

Gregory Sumner, who was in the car with Mr Atkinson, remains in hospital with ‘serious brain injuries’.

An inquest heard how Mr Atkinson had been drinking in a Weston nightclub before driving back to his home in Cheddar with Mr Sumner.

Witness Julian Browne described how Mr Atkinson began flashing his headlights at his car, which also contained two teenage passengers, and began following their vehicle.

Mr Browne said he had turned back towards Banwell when Mr Atkinson followed again.

Mr Atkinson, driving a red BMW, began to overtake the car on the brow of a hill on the A371 and was on the wrong side of the road when he collided with Mr Parker’s vehicle.

Mr Rose said he would not criticise Mr Parker’s driving, as he frequently travelled along that road on his way to work.

The coroner concluded Mr Atkinson died as a result of a road traffic collision, while he reached a narrative verdict for Mr Parker.

Mr Rose said: “Two vehicles collided with terrifying results. Mr Parker and Mr Atkinson were killed immediately.

“The deceased was driving in a perfectly proper manner within the speed limit when an oncoming car engaged in a road rage incident at a speed in excess of 70mph and travelling on the wrong carriageway over the brow of a hill collided with the deceased’s car, causing the death of both drivers.

“The act of the oncoming driver who was seriously over the drink driving limit for alcohol was gross criminal negligence and amounted to the unlawful killing of the deceased.”

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Parker’s father said: “It has confirmed what we already knew.

“Richard didn’t do anything wrong. It is hard, but I’m just pleased it has confirmed he was a good driver.”

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