A tragic lesson: Crash victim could have been saved by seatbelt

Andrew Racey
Andrew Racey

Wearing a seatbelt could have saved the life of a man who died after being thrown 12 metres from his car, an inquest has been told.

Andrew Racey, 34, died in Pilgrim Hospital on February 24, the day after he suffered a crash at Frith Bank, Antons Gowt, where he suffered major head injuries.

At an inquest at Spilsby on Wednesday the investigating officer said Mr Racey (pictured), of Castledyke Bank, Gipsey Bridge, was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash and was likely to have been travelling faster than the 60mph limit.

Coroner Stuart Fisher said: “If he had been wearing a seatbelt there is every possibility he may well not have sustained fatal injuries. This is a lesson to all of us.”

The hearing was told that the victim did not like wearing a seatbelt on that stretch of road because he had a fear of crashing in the drain and being trapped inside his car.

Mr Racey, who was engaged to marry his fiancée Rachel, was said to be in a rush to buy his lunch while heading to work for farmer Michael Hardy. His blue Ford Focus left the road on an eastbound bend an ‘barrel rolled’ into a field.

Judith Laird, first on the scene, said: “I could see a car on its side in the field, I drove up on the verge and saw the man lying a long way into the field.

“I could tell he was very white in the face, I didn’t think he was breathing.”

A passing nurse, Cheryl Trip, arrived shortly after and they began CPR on Mr Racey.

Mrs Trip said she thought she had heard Mr Racey ‘take his final breath’, but the pair managed to resuscitate him after lengthy chest compressions before he was taken to hospital by ambulance, where he later died.

Pc Raymond Holloway, a forensic collision investigator for Lincolnshire Police, said Mr Racey’s car entered the field with such force it dug into the soil before flipping and landing on its off side.

Mr Racey was thrown 12 metres from where the car ended up, but Pc Holloway said he could not be sure which window he had gone through. He said the road was narrow, with no central markings and with potholes and a crumbling edge, but could be safely negotiated at 60mph.

There were two previous crashes on Frith Bank since 1986, one of which was fatal.

Pc Holloway said the Focus was fitted with bucket seats, which would have held Mr Racey tightly to his seat if he had been wearing his seatbelt.

He added: “There were defects with the edge of the carriageway but they were not contributory to the collision.”

The coroner said Mr Racey ‘knew the road very well’ but told PC Holloway he would like to see chevrons erected to indicate each bend to motorists.

Commending Mrs Trip and Mrs Laird, Mr Fisher said he held ‘great admiration’ for the help they gave Mr Racey.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Fisher said: “There was no evidence of frost or ice on the road and unfortunately he was driving too fast. I have a son the same age and it’s always a huge tragedy to lose a family member.”