Heathfield man, 21, died after crashing into a tree
A 21-year-old man from Heathfield died last year after losing control of his car and crashing into a tree.
The inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall on Thursday (June 24), heard Harry Farley, a construction worker from Broad Oak, died at the scene of the collision.
At about 5pm on September 26, Mr Farley had driven to the home of Charlie Holmes in the village of Cross in Hand, where he collected Mr Holmes and Toby Simpson to go for food at The Crowborough Cross.
The trio set off in Mr Farley’s silver Ford Fiesta around 6pm, the inquest heard.
Mr Holmes said, “Harry was a sensible driver, he drove like an old lady.”
The inquest heard Mr Farley was driving on the B2100 Rotherfield Road when he reached a sharp left-hand bend and lost control of the car.
Mr Holmes said another car ‘zoomed past’ travelling in the opposite direction which caused Mr Farley to ‘panic’. He said Mr Farley moved to the left, mounting the verge and bank, the car then moved across the carriageway and mounted the bank on the other side of the road and drove into a tree.
He said, “The car went out of control. Harry tried to regain control and I think he went to brake but accelerated instead. It all happened so quickly.”
Mr Farley’s side of the car hit the tree around 6.15pm.
Passers-by called the emergency services, but unfortunately Mr Farley was pronounced dead at the scene. The other two men were taken to hospital.
Mr Holmes came away with minor injuries and Mr Simpson, who was sat behind Mr Farley, dislocated his hip.
Detective constable Simon Rideout examined the scene afterwards and produced a report for the inquest.
He said there was ‘catastrophic damage to the car’ and studies show in rapid responses, drivers often press the accelerator rather than the brake – something evidence suggests Mr Farley did.
The inquest also heard Mr Holmes was the only person in the car wearing a seat belt.
Toxicology reports from Dr Amber Crampton found low levels of cocaine in Mr Farley’s system.
Dr Crampton said, “It may be consistent with historic use. It could have been recent use, it could have been hours before, but it was still present in the blood.
“We can never say exactly when the drug was taken but from the low levels I’d say he probably took it in the daytime before driving that evening.”
She said as we don’t know when he took the cocaine, there is no way of knowing if and how it impacted his driving. However, Mr Holmes and Mr Simpson both said Mr Farley was ‘his happy, chatty self’ and they didn’t know he’d taken cocaine.
East Sussex coroner Alan Craze ruled Mr Farley’s death was due to a drug-related road traffic collision.