'Dreadful tragedy' of young man's death

A 19-year-old man was killed in a "dreadful tragedy" after being in collision with a passing car while travelling home from celebrating an 18th birthday, an inquest heard yesterday.

A 19-year-old man was killed in a "dreadful tragedy" after being in collision with a passing car while travelling home from celebrating an 18th birthday, an inquest heard yesterday.

Liam Rand, of Hunstanton Road, Dersingham, died while crossing the A148 Norwich to Fakenham road at Sculthorpe.

The collision happened moments after he had stepped out of a hired bus in which he had been travelling to pubs with friends.

An inquest in Norwich was told that the minibus pulled into a layby when two passengers began arguing, and Mr Rand stepped out to try to calm the situation.

He did not get back in the vehicle and his friends searched for him to no avail, not realising he had gone into the path of a Vauxhall Cavalier whose driver had been dazzled by the headlights of the minibus.

Giving evidence, Malcolm McAllister said he hired the vehicle for the night out on May 13 and decided to pull into a layby at about 10.30pm when an argument broke out between two men in the back.

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He said Mr Rand took one of them to the other side of the unlit road and managed to calm him down, but he did not get back in the minibus.

"Two of us had a quick look round and couldn't find him, so we drove up and down the road," said Mr McAllister. He said he then took everyone home and returned to the scene later, when he was confronted by the scene of police investigating the accident.

Amy Brown, 19, the driver of the Cavalier, said she was heading home to Hindringham, near Fakenham, when she noticed a "van" in a layby on her side of the road, facing towards her with one very bright headlight and one very dim.

"The one that was really bright was really high," she said, "I couldn't see because the light was blinding me, so I slowed down. Then I saw a shadow on my side of the road and then, bang, that was it."

Miss Brown, who was with her mother and boyfriend, called police immediately, and a breath test proved negative.

City coroner William Armstrong recorded a verdict of accidental death. Describing it as a dreadful tragedy, he made it clear he felt no one was responsible.

He added: "Nobody who was at the scene of this tragedy will ever forget that night. Liam, to his credit, was trying to calm things down, and it seems tragic that Liam had succeeded, order was restored and everyone got back in the minibus - everybody except Liam.

"I know he was a much-loved person; a fun-loving person who had everything to live for."

Mr Rand died 11 months after his sister Jade was badly injured and had to have a leg amputated at the knee after an accident at Dersingham in which her best friend, 17-year-old Jamie Griffin, was killed.