A 20 year-old Limavady man died when his car collided with a lorry after he lost control of his vehicle during an overtaking manoeuvre.
This was the finding of the Coroner’s Court sitting in Coleraine this morning (Monday) which heard evidence from witnesses who were at the scene of a collision between a drinks lorry and car which claimed the life of Kyle Simmons, a father of two from Limavady.
The court heard that a therapeutic amount of diazepam, which had not been prescribed for him was found in the blood of the deceased who was driving a blue Peugeot 306 at the time of the accident, Levels of cocaine and cannabis had also been found in his blood.
However, pathologist Dr James Linus said this did not confirm that Kyle was under the influence of these drugs at the time of the collision as the substance can stay in the body for a number of days.
Police investigations into mobile phone records also showed that at the time of the collision Mr Simmons had received text messages on his phone, which was on his lap, however they were unable to ascertain if the messages had been read as the phone had been so badly damaged in the accident.
Police constable Peter Grimes told the court he attended the scene of the collision which took place on the Broad Road to Coleraine on March 18, 2014.
On arrival at the scene he was told the driver had been pronounced dead, but the deceased’s friend, Jason Cooke, who was a passenger, had to be cut out of the vehicle and the roof of the Peugeot removed.
Constable Grimes said that witness statements claimed that Mr Simmons had been overtaking. He narrowly missed a car just managing to get back into his lane in time but he over steered clipping a verge resulting in the vehicle coming back out into the wrong lane and striking the drinks lorry.
The court also heard witness statements from two workers at businesses in Coleraine who had seen Kyle Simmons and Jason Cooke shopping in Coleraine before the accident.
A worker from the Sports Direct shop where he bought two pairs of shoes said that Kyle looked like he was walking round the shop trying to keep himself upright, his speech was slurred, he was mumbling, and his hands were shaking.
A worker at McDonalds said the two were both “zoned out,” their eyes were wide and their speech slurred.
Pathologist Dr James Linus who carried out the post mortem told the court that Kyle Simmons had suffered multiple injuries to his head and body.
He said that diazepam, cannabis and a breakdown of cocaine were found in the blood of the deceased but that cannabis can stay in the body for a number of days, while the cocaine could be a residue of previous cocaine usage.
The coroner asked about the statement from one of the people in the shops who referred to Mr Simmons being “on something” but Dr Linus said he had no scientific evidence to confirm that Mr Simmons was under the influence of drugs.
The deceased’s mother Diane Simmons, speaking from the public gallery said she found the descriptions of Kyle slurring his speech “offensive”.
“He mumbled and often spoke through his nose,” she said.
“I saw him that morning before he left. He was happy and chatty.”
Kyle’s dad David Simmons told the court he was aware that his son was taking cannabis.
“I can see how people would be confused because Kyle had a tendency to talk through his nose,” he said. “But I saw him at 1pm in our local Spar shop and he was his usual self, cheerful and happy”.
Jason Cooke who sustained serious injuries in the accident said he remembered little about the collision.
“We were on the Mountain Road, the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital and being told Kyle had died.”
Mr Cooke, who needed 60 staples for a head wound said he often gets flashbacks of the collision with the windscreen smashing. He said he had not seen Kyle taking any drugs.
Trevor Murphy who was driving the drinks lorry which Kyle Simmons crashed into, told the court he had been a HGV driver since 1977.
He said on the day of the collision he was making his normal deliveries.
“We were going up an incline doing 40mph and it was quite a pull up the slope,” he said. “There was a bit of a hidden dip and I saw a light coloured car coming towards us.
“It was overtaking on the other side of the road. I put my foot on the brake. The vehicle lost traction and went on to the grass verge on the opposite side of me. It then caught on stones which made the vehicle come back on to the road. I thought it was going to miss but it came straight into the lorry. It was a massive impact. There was nothing I could do but try and stop.”
Adrian Donnell who was Trevor Murphy’s lorry helper said the force of the crash seemed to lift him off his seat. He said that since the collision he has suffered sleepless nights due to the trauma.
Recording the death as a result of multiple injuries Coroner Suzanne Anderson extended her sympathies to the family of Kyle Simmons.