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Driver was over speed limit before crash which killed him and pedestrian, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 14:34 06 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:50 07 May 2020

Viorel Petroi, who died in the crash near the Norfolk Showground. Picture: Courtesy of Mr Radi

Viorel Petroi, who died in the crash near the Norfolk Showground. Picture: Courtesy of Mr Radi

Mr Radi

A motorist was driving at 70mph in a 60mph zone when he lost control of his car and collided with two pedestrians, an inquest heard.

The scene of the crash which killed Benjamin Gardiner and Viorel Petroi. Pic: Dan Grimmer.The scene of the crash which killed Benjamin Gardiner and Viorel Petroi. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

Benjamin Gardiner was travelling in a blue Subaru Legacy estate near the Norfolk Showground at New Costessey, near Norwich, when he left the road and hit Viorel Petroi and Daniella Radu.

Mr Gardiner and Mr Petroi were both declared dead at the scene.

The inquest in Norwich heard that Ms Radu survived but had to have an arm amputated as a result of the crash, which happened at about 5pm on November 22, 2019.

Mr Petroi and Ms Radu were walking along Dereham Road and had come from Cooper BMW, where they both worked as valets. It was dark and they were walking to catch a bus.

Mr Gardiner, from Scarning, near Dereham, was driving towards Easton and crashed into a tree after colliding with the pedestrians.

Members of the public who arrived on the scene shortly after the collision dialled 999, and the emergency services including the air ambulance were called but Mr Gardiner, 37, who was trapped in his car and Mr Petroi, 48, who was thrown into undergrowth could not be saved.

At a joint inquest into the deaths of the two men held at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on May 6, evidence was read from the families of Mr Petroi and Mr Gardiner, a police officer who investigated the cause of the collision, members of the public who arrived on the scene and paramedics.

PC Stuart Aldous, who carried out a collision investigation report looking at the likely cause of the crash, said he found no defects with either the road surface, or Mr Gardiner’s Subaru.

Drug and alcohol tests for both Mr Petroi and Mr Gardiner also came back negative.

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Looking at dashcam footage from Mr Gardiner’s car, PC Aldous said he believed the Subaru was travelling at around 70mph in a 60mph zone at the time of the collision.

He said the dashcam footage showed the car accelerating as it turned into Dereham Road. PC Aldous said he believed Mr Gardiner accelerated then took his foot of the accelerator causing lift over steer.

He came to the conclusion this was what caused Mr Gardiner’s car to cross into the right hand lane and onto the verge where Mr Petroi and Ms Radu were walking.

In a tribute written to Mr Petroi, by his wife Raluca Petroi, the court heard how Mr Petroi, who was Romanian, had left his left home and family in order to work in the UK, a decision Mrs Petroi said she would “regret for the rest [her] life.”

She said her husband and father of her son was “the love of her life” who was known among friends as ‘Bond’ for his striking resemblance to the James Bond actor Daniel Craig.

She said he was a committed family man, “who never missed a birthday, wedding or any family event.” “Viorel was a man of few words but his life was full of love. He was taken so soon and a part of me also died that night. I want everyone to know how special he was,” she said.

Anne Gardiner, Mr Gardiner’s wife, told the inquest how she and her husband, who was a mature student at the University of East Anglia, had been together for 19 years.

She said she last spoke to her husband on the morning of November 19.

She said her husband often varied the route he travelled home to Scarning, near Dereham from the UEA, sometimes driving via Easton other times using the A47.

“He was the my best friend and rock who supported me through everything, he was an amazing father to our son. He was thoughtful, loving and protective,” she said.

Penelope Garrett, Mr Gardiner’s mother, added that her son would have been “devastated to know that others had been injured in the accident.”

Closing the inquest, area coroner for Norfolk, Yvonne Blake gave a concluded that both Mr Petroi and Mr Gardiner died as a result of a road traffic collision.


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