HomeWorld NewsFour young pals died in 'huge fireball' car crash after drunk driver, 20, sped at 120mph before ploughing into house
Four young pals died in 'huge fireball' car crash after drunk driver, 20, sped at 120mph before ploughing into house
FOUR young pals have died in a “huge fireball” after a drunk driver sped at more 120mph before crashing into a house.
Jordan Rawlings, 20, and three young friends died when he lost control of his hot hatch and smashed his white VW Polo GTI into a house, an inquest heard today.
The car ploughed through a hedge and then burst into flames in a Wiltshire garden in last August.
Horrified onlookers heard “screaming” from inside after two explosions but efforts to rescue them from the burning vehicle were futile and tragically pronounced dead at the scene.
University students Matthew Parke and Corey Owen, both 19, and Ryan Nelson, 20, were passengers in the car that was seen travelling at 122mph on wet roads moments before the crash.
A coroner today said driver Jordan Rawlings, 20, had breached a “duty of care” to his passengers. His inquest will be heard next week.
Andrew Inkpen who was with Mr Rawlings earlier that night said he drank three bottles of Corona beer and ate a kebab before driving to pick up the three passengers from a nightclub in nearby Chippenham, Wiltshire.
Later that night a woman, Megan Lloyd, was walking home when she heard loud music coming from the car and then saw the Polo – which had a top speed of 147mph – “bombing” down the road.
She said: "The road has a 30mph limit but I estimate the car was travelling at about 60mph.
"I said the driver was stupid… the driver's speed was too fast, especially because the road was wet. I said to my friend, "he's bombing it down there'."
A video on Corey Owen's Snapchat showed all four young men in the car laughing and listening to loud music. CCTV images confirmed the car driving at an average speed of 122mph shortly before the crash.
Margaret Conneely, who lived in the house the Polo ploughed into, said her husband woke thinking “a bomb had gone off”.
She said: "Peter said he woke from the sound of an explosion, thought a bomb had gone off, had a feeling of being shaken and the room he was in shook. He saw a flash of light."
They then rushed outside and she added: "We could physically feel the heat of the fire at this point. There had been a second explosion and by this time there was an intense fire in the car and plumes of dark smoke which were really acrid smelling.
I could hear two voices from inside the car and banging on the windows as if someone was hitting feet on the window or roof
"I could hear two voices from inside the car and banging on the windows as if someone was hitting feet on the window or roof. I could hear 'help, get me out, get me out'. It then went quiet shortly after that."
Kirsty Archer, who was staying at the house, said: "I looked out the window and saw what can only be described as a box of metal but mashed up… the flames were as high as the upstairs window.
"Half the car was alight and it was getting wider, you couldn't get near it.
"Later that day I spoke to the fire officer who said even with his protective gear and breathing apparatus he couldn't get close to the car so we wouldn't have had a chance, he said we would have been casualties ourselves."
A forensic collision examiner for Wiltshire Police explained the car was travelling at an average of 122mph shortly before the crash and he saw from the Snapchat video the car was accelerating at 'excessive speed'.
He added: "From the manner of his driving he was quite comfortable driving at that speed but I'd say he was going too fast.
"The three passengers, the three boys in the vehicle were laughing, singing no shouting please stop, let me out whenever."
The court heard Mr Rawlings was 1.4 times the drink drive limit, which meant “he would have had reduced reaction times, trying to take risks that wouldn't be warranted from a normal driver”.
The court heard Mr Rawlings was travelling too fast to negotiate a bend in the road so the car “mounted the kerb and the grass verge” and “collided heavily with a tree” before flipping through a hedge and landing on its side, with the rear of the vehicle colliding with the house.
Matthew Parke had been studying business management at Swansea University and was due to go into his second year in September last year.
He had achieved 10 GCSEs and 3 A-levels and his family described him as "confident, popular, strong-willed and determined".
Corey Owen was described by his mother Tessa as a “sensible, reliable young man mature beyond his years”.
He had been in the process of applying to university and was supposed to be on a weekend away that night but could not get the time off work.
Ryan Nelson was a Manchester United fan, he was working at Tesco before his death and dreamed of becoming a DJ. He was sat in the front passenger seat and died from suffocation.
In his family tribute, Jordan Rawlings was said to be remembered as a "ray of sunshine, who always had a cheeky smile, a wicked sense of humour and a contagious laugh that would put a smile on everybody’s face.