Canal crash passenger died while driver was two times alcohol limit

The inquest took place at Flax Bourton Coroners' Court.

The inquest took place at Flax Bourton Coroners' Court. - Credit: Archant

A Worle man, who was a passenger in a car driven by a man who was more than twice the legal drink-drive limit and had been smoking cannabis, died after the vehicle crashed and ‘somersaulted’ into a Bristol canal.

Andrew Sigley, aged 40, died after his friend Adam Clifford lost control of his yellow Skoda Fabia and crashed it through railings into the Feeder Road canal, an inquest heard.

Both Mr Sigley, an HGV driver who lived in Mead Vale, and Mr Clifford, of Sea Mills in Bristol, were killed in the incident on January 24.

Flax Bourton Coroners’ Court heard the car was so severely damaged that neither man could have escaped, despite the efforts of passers-by who jumped into the water to try to save them.

Toxicology reports carried out during a post-mortem examination found driver Mr Clifford’s body had 185mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, while Mr Sigley’s had 145mg per 100ml. The legal drink-drive limit in England is 80mg per 100ml.

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Tests showed Mr Clifford’s blood also contained traces of cannabis, although assistant coroner Terence Moore was unable to rule whether this would have affected Mr Clifford’s driving.

PC Julian Chambers is a forensic collision investigator with Avon and Somerset Constabulary. He told the inquest: “(The car) failed to stop, crashed over the Feeder Road, went through the railings, somersaulted and went into the canal. It was completely submerged.

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“I am unable to find any evidence of braking or taking action at any stage.

“What cannot be overlooked is that Adam Clifford had been drinking and smoking marijuana.”

PC Chambers also read accounts from three witnesses who saw the crash, who said they believed the car had been travelling in excess of 60mph. The road’s speed limit is 20mph.

One witness said: “I could only describe it (the car) as going like the clappers, picking up momentum and not slowing down.

“The car made no attempt to slow and I do not recall seeing any brake lights.”

Mr Moore ruled both men died as a result of a road traffic collision, while medical examinations confirmed both men had drowned.

He told the inquest: “It is clear that both gentlemen had been drinking but of course, of greater significance was the fact the driver had 185mg of alcohol (in his bloodstream) and was twice the legal drink-drive limit.

“On approaching the junction with Feeder Road, the vehicle did not brake and nor did it deviate significantly in its course or speed. The vehicle flipped over and somersaulted so it ended up on its roof.

“Sadly, and despite a couple of passers-by actually jumping in and trying to free the occupants, they were unsuccessful and they were pronounced dead shortly after.”

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