Martin Ward,18, Ryan Geddes, 19, and Mason Hall, 19, all died at the scene of the devastating collision with a tree on Kiveton Lane in Rotherham on the afternoon of October 24, 2021.
At their joint inquest on Thursday (June 16), the families of the three friends were shocked to hear the car carrying the boys hit the tree at 104mph.
However, the inquest also brought to light many other details that have only now been made public that paint a clearer picture of the fatal and tragic accident.
– The car had been seen on the same road 45 minutes before
The white Ford Fiesta was spotted on Kiveton Lane approximately 45 minutes before the crash, driving in the opposite direction.
A witness described how the car overtook them on the 40mph road and sped off.
It is not known who was driving at the time, or where the boys were between this sighting and the crash.
– Ryan “may have had concerns” about being in the car
The court heard how Ryan texted his girlfriend in the minutes before the crash saying he would be home soon.
While doing so, he sent his partner a private code of ‘two thumbs up emojis’, which he used when he felt message needed her attention.
Senior coroner Nicola Mundy said she “could not say for certain” but believed this could have been a sign Ryan “had concerns” about being in the car.
– The car was in working mechanical order
During the inquest, a report by senior collision investigator Christopher Slater noted that the modified white Ford Fiesta ST appeared in mechanical working order.
This was stated at the inquest to rule out the possibility that the car malfunctioned or had a fault prior to the collision, which many residents speculated over following the crash. – Martin was driving a car “far more powerful than the average family vehicle”
On the day of the crash, Martin took the keys to his mum’s modified white Ford Fiesta ST while she was asleep. She had hidden the keys in a key pouch around her house.
The court also heard the statement of Martin’s mother Sara Jane Smith, who died two weeks after the crash. An inquest into her death is yet to conclude.
She told police: “I was the only person insured to drive the car. No one else had access to it and no one else had permission. This included Martin.”
The police report noted that the car was “far more powerful” than the average family car, capable of putting out 300 brake horsepower. When a witness first heard the car, they described it as “revving loudly” down the road.
Serious collision investigations officer PC Nicholas Brady-Smith testified that, at 100mph, Martin would have had to have been a “professional race driver” to navigate sweeping left hand bend safely at the speeds he was travelling at.
Further, it emerged that Martin was reportedly a disqualified provisional driver at the time of the crash.
– It is not known if Mason and Ryan were wearing their seatbelts
Investigators found that Martin had not been wearing his seatbelt in the crash.
But it was “inconclusive” as to whether Mason or Ryan were wearing theirs, meaning it could not be said for certain.
However, in her conclusion, senior coroner Nicola Mundy stated she found it “unlikely” in Mason’s case, who was in the front passenger seat of the two-car vehicle.
– Passersby fought to save the boys’ lives
Several residents, motorists and passersby quickly arrived at the scene of the crash to help the three victims.
They included a resident who was asked to run to nearby homes to fetch a fire extinguisher after a fire broke out in the car’s engine, which they were able to find and brought back to the scene within minutes.
Another man, a dog walker, fought to get Martin out, while another man armed with an iron bar attempted to bust open the passenger side door.
A fire engine was on the scene within minutes. But sadly, nothing anyone could have done would have saved the three friends’ lives.
– The car could have still be accelerating at the time of the crash
Analysis of CCTV showed that, around 15 seconds before the impact, the car went by a house further down the road at around 60mph.
In those next 15 seconds, it then covered a distance of around 500m before hitting the tree at 104mph.
There was no evidence of braking or turning to avoid the bend, which would clearly visible.
It means Martin may still have been accelerating when the crash occurred
– Martin breached his “duty of care” for his two friends as the driver
Several members of the three families broke out in tears at the inquest yesterday as the coroner gave her heartbreak conclusion.
She ruled that, as a driver who drove far in excess of the speed limit, Martin breached the duty of care he owed to his two passengers as the responsible driver.This was supported by PC Nicholas Brady-Smith, who said he believed, had Martin lived, he would have been referred to the CPS and charged with causing death by dangerous driving, driving without insurance, and driving without a license.