Battle man who died in A21 crash ‘was loved by everyone’

A 22-year-old man who died in a single-vehicle collision on the A21 ‘was loved by everyone’, an inquest heard.

Harry Martin, 22, of Whatlington, Battle, had been driving southbound alone in his SEAT Leon at about 11.50pm on October 24, 2018.

Combe Valley Way was closed on Thursday

Combe Valley Way was closed on Thursday

He lost control of his vehicle as he negotiated a right-hand turn just south of the Flimwell cross-roads and collided with three trees before his vehicle came to a stop.

He was pronounced dead at the scene at 12.17am on October 25.

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An inquest into his death, held in Hastings on Tuesday (June 4), heard Mr Martin had been at The Vineyard pub on the evening of October 24.

A toxicology report carried out after his death found he had 184 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his system – more than twice the legal limit of 80.

Following the inquest, his mother Susan Martin said: “He was loved by everyone.

“I have never seen so many people at a funeral before. He was a mechanic so loads of people he had done work for turned up to pay their respects.

“He had so much experience as a driver. He could drive anything from such an early age but we don’t know what happened that night.

“He never really drank so I have no idea why he chose to that night.”

The court heard from forensic collision investigating officer Sue Thomas who was called to the scene at 2.26am on October 25.

She agreed with senior coroner for East Sussex Alan Craze that the cause of the crash was based around three factors.

Firstly, she said, tests had been conducted to find out the ‘theoretical critical speed’ a road user could safely navigate the bend at which Mr Martin lost control of his vehicle to be somewhere around 65mph. From this, she said it was ‘likely’ Mr Martin had been travelling in the region of 65mph when he crashed.

Secondly, Ms Thomas said an examination of the vehicle found defects on both rear tires.

She told the court the tread of both tyres – 0.74 millimetres and 0.44 millimetres respectively – was well below the legal limit of 1.6 millimetres prior to Mr Martin’s crash. Ms Thomas said this would have affected the ability of the tyres to grip to the road surface.

Thirdly, Ms Thomas said the presence of alcohol would have impacted his ability to navigate the bend.

A post mortem examination found Mr Martin died from ‘multiple injuries’.

Returning a conclusion of death by road traffic collision, senior coroner for East Sussex Alan Craze said: “This is a tragedy. All of us have been young and done things which could have gone wrong. We have lived to learn from it but sadly for Harry he did not.”

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