Inquest hears how thrills turned to tragedy

Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith

THE families and friends of two tragic Wigan teens heard how a late-night meeting of motoring fans turned to horror after the pair lost their lives in a high speed collision.

At a Bolton inquest, Deputy Coroner Alan Walsh heard that both Leah Davies, of Thornbush Close, Lowton, and Ryan Smith, of Derby Road, Golborne, had a passion for all things motoring and in particular motorcycles.

The pair had been at a “car cruise” at the Martland Park Industrial Estate, Wigan, with respective friends before an accident claimed both their lives. After viewing the gathering of cars and motorcycles for a short period, Ryan, aboard a Honda 600cc, led Andrew Evans, driving a Citroen Saxo and Oliver Pugh, also on a motorcycle, down Fourmarts Road.

The court then heard from two witnesses who said Mr Smith doubled back on himself, travelling back to the junction with Hillridge Road.

Mr Pugh, said: “Ryan was doing a wheelie when he went past me. I saw the front wheel 3ft off the ground. It was probably not 100mph, closer to 80mph because he was accelerating.

“The front wheel did not go back down until the last second before the collision.”

The speed Mr Smith was travelling and whether his wheel had left the ground and for how long were disputed by legal counsel to the Smith family.

Another teen present at the collision, Ryan Yates, had not followed with the other three because he had stayed behind while Leah was looking for a lost set of keys. The court heard Mr Yates describe watching Ryan turn round near to the top of Fourmarts Road and drive past him seconds before the accident.

He said: “He was definitely at least 100mph because it was a 600cc bike in third or fourth gear, you could hear the noise it was making.”

However, Mr Yates’s assertion that the bike was in a high gear was disputed in cross-examination as it appeared to have contradicted a statement made by Mr Yates in the weeks following the accident which stated the bike was in second gear.

Leah was “edging” out from the junction of Hillridge Road onto Fourmarts Road at a slow speed when the collision occurred, the court heard. The 19-year-old died in Salford Royal Hospital a week after the crash having suffered severe brain injuries.

Her parents chose to not have a post-mortem examination conducted.

Mandy Lawrenson told the court her daughter was an incredibly positive individual who had a lot of friends and passed on her condolences to the Smith family.

On the day of the accident she had tried to stop her daughter from going out. She said: “I was trying to persuade her not to go.”

Mr Smith worked as a welder and from a young age had an interest in mechanics and engineering.

Rosemary Smith said her son was a hard-working and committed person who gave everything for his family and friends. “He would light up the room when he walked in,” she told the court after also passing on her condolences to the Davies’.

A post-mortem examination found that Ryan Smith had no traces of alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of his death but had suffered severe brain and spleen injuries with extensive haemorrhage.