'Stay with us': Inquest

PASSERS-BY who were driving along the Bann Road outside Ballymoney when they came across the scene of a two vehicle collision tried to comfort the victim and one uttered the words 'stay with us' before the badly injured man died, an Inquest heard.

The efforts of Victor Chestnutt and David Millar were praised by Coroner Suzanne Anderson in Coleraine Courthouse last Friday.

The Coroner found that 35-year-old Stephen Moorcroft, a HGV driver, of Edenmore Crescent, Bendooragh, died as a result of the collision when a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction crossed the central white lines on the road on October 21, 2008.

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Minutes earlier Mr Moorcroft, who was once a chef in the RAF and was a member of the Territorial Army, had kissed his wife after going with her in her car which she drove to Ballymoney Train Station to travel on to work in Belfast.

Mr Moorcroft then took the wheel of the car for the trip home before he was due to travel on to his own work. He was driving along the Bann Road before 7am on the dark autumn morning when the collision occurred.

The inquest heard a pathologist said Mr Moorcroft died in the vehicle from multiple injuries after the engine was forced into the car during the collision.

The driver of the other car - Christopher Darragh, a 26-year-old prison officer from Bendooragh, had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by careless driving and was ordered to do 240 hours of Community Service and was banned from driving for two years.

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The inquest was held in the small Court 3 at Coleraine Courthouse and Mr Moorcroft’s wife Michelle (35) sat just feet from the man who previously admitted killing her husband in the accident.

Speaking afterwards she said she found it difficult to look at Mr Darragh “half the time”.

She said: “He still lives round the corner from me and has walked past my house but he has never personally spoken to me to say sorry for killing my husband. He had an opportunity today but again he didn’t do it.”

The inquest was told there were no defects with either vehicle and there was nothing on the road to cause the car to go to cross to the other side of the road.

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Answering questions by Dermot Fee QC, who was representing the Moorcroft family, Mr Darragh accepted he caused the crash after the car had gone on to the wrong side of the road but said it was unintentional.

Mr Darragh said he skidded after braking at a corner to slow down and he said he could accept he was perhaps driving at “slightly more” than the National Speed Limit of 60mph which applied to the road but otherwise he did not know the exact speed he had been doing.

The Coroner said Mr Moorcroft died after an oncoming car crossed the central divide and collided with the vehicle he was driving.

She extended her sympathy to Mr Moorcroft’s family.

Earlier, David Millar’s statement said he was going to work in Bendooragh when he came across the car crash he saw a male who appeared to be unconscious in one of the cars and checked to see if there was a pulse and he tried to talk to the injured man but there was no response.

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He said he spoke to another man who was out of the other vehicle who was disorientated and agitated and that the man had told him “It was my fault”.

Another man who came across the scene, Victor Chestnutt, said he was travelling from Bushmills to Aghadowey and although the road was wet it was not raining and the temperature was two degrees.

Mr Chestnutt said he told the injured man “stay with us” but there was no sign of life and he got an “eerie feeling” and he rang 999 with the intention of getting instructions on what to do but that an ambulance arrived shortly afterwards.

The Coroner told Mr Chestnutt: “I’m sure the victim’s family are grateful to both you and Mr Millar for stopping at the scene and offering assistance.”

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