A DRIVER killed in a country road smash was repeatedly begged to slow down in the moments leading up to the tragedy, an inquest heard yesterday.
Craig Dufton, 27, was the front seat passenger in William Dalkin’s Hyundai Coupe which left the country road at high speed, ploughed through a fence and overturned 27 metres into a field at Jaw Blades Bank, Burnhope, near Lanchester, County Durham, in the early hours of September 13 last year.
Mr Dufton and his girlfriend, who was a rear seat passenger, escaped without suffering serious injuries, but Mr Dalkin was killed instantly.
An inquest into the death of the 22-year-old, of The Haven, Burnhope, held yesterday was told he died of severe head injuries.
He was over the legal drink/driving limit – tests found a reading of 116miligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit is 80mg. Traces of the prescription drug, Diazepam, were also found in his system.
Mr Dufton said his friend had only had the car for a week and was driving him and his girlfriend home. He told the hearing Mr Dalkin had been drinking, but said he “seemed alright, happy”.
He added: “Just before the crash we were driving a bit fast.
“I was a bit concerned, I told my girlfriend to put her seatbelt on. I asked him to slow down.
“He said he knew the road like the back of his hand, which he did.”
Mr Dufton said he remembered little of the crash, but did recall walking to a nearby petrol station to get help afterwards.
Traffic officer PC Michael Baxter said following extensive investigations, he believed Mr Dalkin may have been exceeding the 60mph speed limit, but possibly not by much.
PC Baxter described the road between Burnhope and Witton Gilbert as “undulating, dark and particularly winding.”
He added: “The level of concentration required to drive on that road at 60mph at night is exceptionally high.”
The officer said the combination of alcohol and Diazepam “would have a greater effect on an individual than if either had been taken alone.”
Coroner Andrew Tweddle recorded a verdict of accidental death.
After Mr Dalkin’s death his mother Susan Lane, said in a statement: “Myself and family would like to pay tribute to a lovely son, William.
“He was a passionate football and racing fan, supporting Newcastle United and often enjoying a flutter at the bookmakers.
“He will be sadly missed by all his family and friends. May God be with him.”