A UNIVERSITY student died in a car accident on the A21 at Hurst Green the day after his twenty-sixth birthday, an inquest heard this week.
Christopher Lloyd and a friend were travelling to Hastings to mark the occasion when the fatal accident happened on October 29 last year.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing Mr Lloyd’s VW Golf do a U-turn at the junction of the A229 Merriments Lane before pulling out into oncoming traffic.
The car collided with a Jeep Cherokee and Mr Lloyd died at the scene.
Five other people were taken to hospital.
Mr Lloyd, who lived in The Crescent, Hampton-in-Arden, Solihull, hired a car and he and close friend Tatiana Biktimorova decided to drive down from her home in London to the coast.
A statement from Ms Biktimorova was read out to the inquest, which was held at Hastings on Wednesday.
She said she was busy studying in the passenger seat of the VW Golf whilst Mr Lloyd was at the wheel, but could not remember the accident.
She said: “We had been in the car for a while and I was unsure where we were, but I think Chris needed the toilet.
“I have no memory of what happened next.
“The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital.
“It was explained to me I had been in a car accident and Chris had died.”
Ms Biktimorova had been airlifted to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford with serious injuries, including a fractured pelvis and fractured ribs.
Paul Deakin was driving the Jeep which collided with Mr Lloyd’s hire car.
He told the hearing he was driving his partner, her young daughter and her daughter’s friend, to a firework celebration in Hastings from the family home in Tunbridge Wells.
Mr Deakin said he was travelling at ‘40 or 50’ miles per hour along the National Speed Limit road as he was approaching Hurst Green village, which has a speed limit of 30mph.
He saw Mr Lloyd’s car pulling out in front of him in the carriageway, but it was too late.
Mr Deakin said: “My partner said there was a car and the next thing I remember is the airbags going off.”
He said he heard the two children, aged 10 and 11, crying, and told everyone to get out as smoke filled the Jeep.
Mr Deakin said: “The car was not there, and the next minute it pulled out in front of me and I do not think I had time to brake.
“It was difficult to see, but it must have been accelerating quite quickly to be not there, then suddenly there.”
Other drivers who witnessed the collision confirmed that the Golf had accelerated sharply into the carriageway.
Leon Paine, of Heathfield Gardens, Robertsbridge, saw the vehicle make a U-turn around a traffic island in Merriments Lane.
Mr Paine, who was heading north, said: “He hesitated then accelerated and pulled out in front of traffic.
“He seemed to accelerate hard to get out of the junction at the last moment.”
Several drivers rushed to the aid of Mr Lloyd and one, an off-duty firefighter, administered CPR on the stricken motorist.
PC Mark Hill, a crash investigator from the Sussex Police Road Policing Unit, led extensive investigations to determine the cause of the crash.
He told the inquest: “Mr Deakin had absolutely no option to avoid a collision, but it’s clear some diversion of turn to the right by Mr Deakin.”
He added that Mr Deakin was travelling ‘significantly’ within the speed limit.
Deputy coroner’s officer Joanne Pratt recorded a verdict of death by road traffic accident.