THE tragic deaths of two cousins on a Whitehaven road have prompted a coroner to urge action to be taken over speeding.

Stephen Chambers, 30, of Whitehaven, and Michael Henderson, 28, of Egremont, died on May 1 last year when the silver Vauxhall Astra they were travelling in crashed into a concrete lamppost on New Road.

PC Craig Irving, of Cumbria Police’s collision investigation unit, told an inquest into the deaths of the two men that he believed Mr Henderson, who was known as Mikey, was unfit to drive due to being over the drink drive limit at the time of the crash but that speed and the condition of the car’s rear tyres were also contributing factors.

The road, which has a 40mph speed limit where the crash occurred, has seen a number of fatal road crashes in the past and Coroner Kirsty Gomersal vowed to write to the county council to ask for measures to tackle speeding to be considered in a bid to prevent more deaths.

She said: “I feel that I should raise a concern about the possibility of future deaths on this stretch of road unless consideration is given to further measures.

“That will not bring Stephen or Mikey back but my main hope is that lessons can be learned from what happened and if anything can be done to avoid such a tragic accident then steps should be taken to do so.”

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The inquest heard that Mr Henderson was driving towards Whitehaven at about 9.30pm, with Mr Chambers in the front passenger seat, when he lost control.

His car slid sideways along the pavement and collided with a lamppost, with the car being split in two and both men suffering “unsurvivable injuries” which they died of at the scene.

Witnesses said the wreckage no longer resembled a car, with one person mistaking it for a fallen tree.

PC Irving said: “I have never seen a car transected in half in all my years of going to a fatal collision.”

He added: “I would say that the speed was well in excess of 40mph.

“This type of damage to the vehicle and lamppost just doesn’t occur with a vehicle hitting it at 40mph.”

An examination of the car found no defects but both rear tyres were said to be poorly maintained, with one of them less than a quarter of the required tyre pressure.

PC Irving said he believed the car would have partially aquaplaned as a result when Mr Henderson lost control because there was standing water on the road due to the fact it had been raining.

A toxicology report revealed the amount of alcohol in Mr Henderson’s blood was more than double the legal limit to drive.

“He certainly would have been impaired with that amount of alcohol in his blood,” added PC Irving.

“Whether that was something that caused him to exceed the speed limit, or not be fully in control of his vehicle, I couldn’t say.”

A post-mortem ruled both men died of multiple injuries.