A 25-year-old man killed in a single vehicle road accident was more than twice over the drink-drive limit, an inquest heard yesterday (Thursday, July 12).
Joshua Dawson, a landscape gardener, had also take cocaine before getting behind the wheel and died of multiple injuries.
Tests indicated he had 173 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80 milligrams.
Mr Dawson, of Highview Lane, Ridgewood, Uckfield, had spent the evening of Saturday, December 30, last year with his friend Jack Doyle.
They visited The Lansdown Arms in Lewes and were on their way back to the Uckfield area when the accident happened.
Mr Dawson lost control of the Ford Transit van he was driving and it left Isfield Road, off the A26, at around 12.50am on December 31 ending up on its side among trees. Neither man was wearing a seatbelt.
Friend Mr Doyle told the inquest it was raining heavily that night. Moments before the accident the van was approaching a large body of surface water on the road.
He believed he shouted “watch out” and after that “it was just a blur”.
He could not see Mr Dawson in the pitch darkness. He managed to climb out of the vehicle and ran to the nearest house for help.
Jeff Naested was about to go to bed when he heard a knock on the door, he said in a statement read to the inquest at Eastbourne Town Hall. Mr Doyle, who was bleeding from his injuries, said he needed help “because his mate was trapped”.
Mr Naested told his wife to call the emergency services, then armed with a torch he accompanied Mr Doyle to the vehicle on the unlit road.
Mr Dawson was pronounced dead at the scene, and his friend was later treated at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
Police officer Richard Moller investigated the accident. He said tyre pressures were low but there were no mechanical faults on the van.
Deputy East Sussex Coroner Fiona King said the combination of alcohol and cocaine, the under-inflated tyres, the darkness, heavy rain, standing water and failure to wear a seatbelt were all contributing factors to the tragedy.
She recorded a verdict of accidental death and extended her sympathy to Mr Dawson’s family.