A WIGAN taxi driver described seeing a red blur moments before a car smashed into his minibus in a fatal traffic collision.
At a Bolton inquest, a verdict of accidental death was recorded for the tragic case of Steven Daniel James, of St Helens Road, Leigh, who lost control of his Honda coupe and collided with the parked minibus on Back Lane, Appley Bridge.
Deputy coroner Alan Walsh was told that Mr James was one-and-a-half times over the drink drive limit and died as a result of skull fractures sustained in the collision in the early hours of Sunday 30 September.
The 25-year-old web designer had been at a friend’s house in Wrightington the evening before with girlfriend Jennifer Jones.
Miss Jones told the hearing that it was not unusual for her boyfriend to go out driving alone as he was a motoring enthusiast and would also go out driving with friends. She did, however, describe that his driving could sometimes be erratic.
She said: “I did not want him to go out driving that night.
“I could tell by his demeanour that it was not right and it was dark. He snook out, he said he wasn’t going to go and then he just did.”
Mr Walsh heard that taxi driver Steven Hart was sat in his minibus while dropping off Back Lane resident John Cahill, who had been at a sponsor’s event at Atherton Football Club with friends and family.
Mr Hart said: “I just saw a red blur and it came screaming at me. Someone was trying to slide the door closed, we had been stationary for a couple of minutes. I didn’t see it coming, it was dark and it was right on top of me.”
Mr Cahill, who was praised by the coroner for his attempts to help resuscitate Mr James at the scene, said: “I heard the car at first, I thought it was a motorbike and then I saw it come round the corner and thought it was going to hit something and I shouted to warn people.
“It came round the bend sideways with its brakes screeching, it went out of control.”
A post-mortem examination revealed that Mr James had traces of cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines in his system in addition to the alcohol level of 119mg, but the drugs were said to not be a significant factor in his death.
Serious collision investigator PC Paul Standish of GMP, told the inquest that if Mr James had been driving at the speed limit of 30mph he would have been able to stop safely before the taxi.
Recording his verdict, Mr Walsh, said: “This was a tragic and unexpected event and is the definition of accidental death.”