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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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High speed blamed for West Cumbria crash that killed three men

The carnage of a crash at Crosby Villa in which three men died was the worst one police officer had seen in her 17-year career, an inquest heard.

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 a two-car crash on the A596.

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, gone out of control.

The Honda turned sideways across the road.

Witness Richard Peel said Mr Harrison’s white Rover 200 could not have avoided it as he rounded the corner from the opposite direction and hit its nearside.

All three men are thought to have died instantly, Mr Edmondson and Mr Ridley from head and chest injuries, and Mr Harrison from multiple injuries.

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 conditions were dry and clear.

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 out-of-control 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.”

In a statement, Mr Edmondson’s mum Angela described her son as a child at heart, who loved his Xbox, enjoyed a joke and was a gentle giant.

She added: “He brought much laughter and joy into the lives of everyone who knew him.”

After the crash, Mr Ridley’s mum Louise said: “Todd was a quiet lad and caring. He was a good son and wasn’t one for getting in trouble.

“He was a homebird and a deep thinker. He would hold his emotions but I knew when something was wrong.”

Mr Harrison had been a retained firefighter in Aspatria and had two sons, Aidan and Dominic.

In a tribute after his death, his family said: “Michael was a fun-loving, caring and loyal family man who treasured life. Michael was a committed, honest, hard-working man whose strength and courage shone through.”

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