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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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High speed blamed for crash that killed three Cumbrian men

The aftermath of a crash in which three Cumbrian men died was the worst a police officer had seen in her 17-year career.

Michael John Harrison, 47, of Queen’s Park, Aspatria, Todd Richard Ridley, 18, of Nether View, Maryport and Jamie Lee Edmondson, 22, of School Close, Maryport, died on October 2 last year in the two-car collision on the A596 at Crosby Villa.

Simon Ward, assistant coroner, heard that Mr Edmondson’s red Honda Civic, travelling towards Carlisle, had overtaken another car on the approach to the hill and shortly afterwards, he lost control of the vehicle.

The Honda turned sideways across the road and Mr Harrison’s white Rover 220 could not have avoided it as he came around the corner from the opposite direction and hit its nearside.

All three men are thought to have died instantly.

Tests showed Mr Edmondson had traces of cannabis and two non-prescribed drugs in his system which, together, could have impaired his driving.

PC Jill Robertson who was called to the crash at 5.24am said the weather was fine and dry and the road was dry and unobstructed.

She added: “I can only describe what I saw as carnage and the worst I have seen in my 17 years as a police officer – it would have been a miracle if anyone had survived.”

Collision investigators could not determine how fast the vehicles were travelling but PC Diane Bowman said it was a high-speed collision which lifted the Honda onto the front of the Rover and pushed it backwards.

Mr Edmondson was thrown from his vehicle by the force despite evidence that he had been wearing his seatbelt.

There was evidence that Mr Harrison had reacted immediately to seeing the Honda and was braking at the time of impact.

Mr Edmondson’s brakes were not on when the collision happened. No defects were found with either car.

PC Bowman said the crash was likely to have been caused by inappropriate speed and inappropriate steering from Mr Edmondson which could have been caused, or aggravated, by the drugs in his system.

Recording that the men had died as a result of a road traffic collision, Mr Ward concluded that the drugs probably had not played a significant part in the crash.

He accepted that the Honda had overtaken across double white lines at excessive speed.

He added: “All the families have been through an indescribable time. The grief is probably unimaginable losing family members in circumstances like that. I know it’s been an emotional wrench coming here today to listen to the evidence.”

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