Downham Market teenager died in 90mph crash

A teenager usually known for his safe and careful driving died as he overtook a lorry at about 90mph, an inquest heard.

Sam Cotterell, 18, of Downham Market, died on the A10 at Wimbotsham when he lost control of his Renault Scenic on November 15 last year.

He had been driving towards King's Lynn at about 7.30am and had overtaken several vehicles before the crash.

The inquest, held at Swaffham Magistrates' Court yesterday, heard the teenager had pulled in sharply to avoid an oncoming lorry, but over-steered and eventually crashed sideways into a van travelling in the opposite direction.

Lorry driver Nigel Parker said he saw Mr Cotterell overtaking two or three vehicles behind him in his mirrors and noticed an articulated lorry coming in the opposite direction.

'I kept my eye on the car, I was thinking you have soon got to pull in, there's a lorry coming. I realised he was not going to pull in, he was going to go for it.'

Mr Parker said the Renault has passed him at about 80 to 90mph and the oncoming lorry had slowed and pulled over to its left.

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'As he went past me he snatched the steering wheel, you could really see the car lurch to the left. The lorry was right up to us and very dangerously close.'

Robert Simmons, who was driving in the opposite direction as Mr Cotterell, saw him dart in front of the lorry and move from side-to-side as he tried to correct the manoeuvre.

'Finally the grip went and he came very quickly across the line of traffic behind me. There might have been a second between the car coming across and the van striking,' he said.

In a statement, witness Nikita Mezanov said he had seen an 'explosion of smoke and debris' when they collided.

PC Georgina Vyse, who stopped to help, said the Renault was embedded sideways in the front of the van, which had obviously moved across to try and avoid the crash. Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said Mr Cotterell was not generally a reckless driver and 'it was a puzzle' why he had driven in such a way.

The teenager, of Ryston End, suffered multiple injuries and in his verdict, Mr Armstrong concluded that he died as a result of a road traffic collision.

He said Mr Cotterell was 'a youngster full of promise' who had been doing very well in his apprenticeship.