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Horror crash which killed three teens an ‘accident’ – coroner

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The Warwickshire Coroner has said he had “rarely seen a car so damaged” as a BMW in which three teenagers lost their lives after it struck a tree.

Sean McGovern returned conclusions that Ryan Barber, Trudi-Mae Kennell and Will Louch had died in a road traffic accident following the collision.

Ryan, 19, and 18-year-old Trudi, who were a couple, and their friend William, also 18, were all declared dead at the scene on The Common, Baxterley, near Atherstone, by paramedics.

The car, a BMW, was being driven by William and they were travelling back from a trip to Snowdonia when it left the road as it was overtaking another vehicle, struck a kerb and hit a tree.

Their friend Dan Wale, who was the fourth person in the car, survived the crash on July 16 last year.

Ryan Barber, Trudi-Mae Kennell and William Louch

All three teenagers who died were from Atherstone.

Ryan was an apprentice engineer, Trudi a receptionist and William a trainee scaffolder.

Cause of the Atherstone crash

The inquest heard from PC Mark Simpson, a forensic investigator for Warwickshire Police.

PC Simpson attended the scene of the accident and reconstructed what had happened.

He said that the road had a 50mph speed limit and added that it was not possible to say what speed the BMW had been travelling at when the accident took place.

He spoke of a “hidden dip” by the collision scene and explained that the BMW had overtaken a Nissan Micra travelling in the same direction.

As it was doing so an Alfa Romeo was travelling towards it

PC Simpson told the inquest, held at Coventry Magistrates Court this morning: “The BMW had suffered catastrophic damage to the front roof and offside consistent with it colliding with a large tree.

“The roof had compressed into the passenger cell, there was significant damage and distortion and the offside front wheel was found detached.

“The BMW rotated clockwise before the collision with the tree.”

PC Simpson said front and side airbags had been deployed.

He said there was no evidence that any other vehicles had “been involved in the collision” but that the Nissan Micra and Alfa Romeo “had been involved in the incident”.

He said: “The precise collision speed of the BMW cannot be determined.”

The officer said the BMW had been overtaking the Nissan by crossing the white hazard lines and in front was the Alfa Romeo.

He said William had been “reacting to the oncoming Alfa Romeo”.

Coroner’s conclusions

Delivering his conclusions Mr McGovern said: “Ryan was 19, Trudi 18 and William 18 – three young people who were still teenagers have lost their lives.

“I would like to say I recognise the pain of what has happened but I am well aware an inquest can’t bring them back.

“On a fine sunny day these people were coming back from a trip, I understand, to Snowdonia.”


Mr McGovern added: “They had been driving for three hours having had an overnight stay.

“They were on a road known as the The Common in Baxterley, all in one car, William was the driver.

“Trudi and Ryan were in the back seat.

“They were approaching a car, a Nissan Micra.

“William decided to overtake, as we heard, there was a hidden dip.

“An Alfa Romeo was coming the other way. He saw it, he reacted to it, as a result of that the car struck the offside kerb, travelled along some grassland and hit a tree.

“The damage was catastrophic. I have rarely seen a car so damaged.”

Coroner’s sympathies

Offering his sympathies to the family Mr McGovern said: “To the Barber, Kennell and Louch families you have my sympathies.

“I am a father and have a child of similar age.

“I can only imagine my feelings if this had happened to me.

“My condolences to you and all the people affected.”

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