Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Pair 'seen laughing' moments before Hampshire tree crash

Luke Gething (left) and Tom Price Image copyright Family photos
Image caption Luke Gething (left) and Tom Price died after the car they were travelling in left Alresford Road

Two men were seen laughing moments before they were killed in a high-speed car crash, an inquest has heard.

Driver Tom Price, 22, and his passenger Luke Gething, 20, died after the car hit a tree at almost 100mph (160km/h) on the B3404 at Winchester on 25 April.

Mr Price, who did not have a licence and had taken cocaine, may have been seeing how narrowly he could avoid a crash with a bus, the court was told.

The coroner concluded the deaths were due to a road traffic collision.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The vehicle came to rest in a field beside the B3404

Mr Price, a father-of-two from Alton, and Mr Gething, of Bentley, met for the first time at a friend's house the previous evening, Winchester Coroner's Court was told.

They had consumed cocaine, vodka and beer together before borrowing a Ford Fiesta belonging to Mr Gething's girlfriend "without her consent".

Mr Price was seen driving erratically before the crash, the inquest heard.

Bus driver Patrick Turley said he had to swerve to avoid a collision as the car approached at speed on the wrong side of the road.

In a written statement, he said: "I could clearly see the driver and passenger's faces. They were laughing."

'Frozen at 96mph'

The manoeuvre caused the car to lose control, hit the kerb and career into the tree, the inquest was told.

The pair were thrown from the car on the Alresford Road at 06:27 BST, with the vehicle's speedometer found frozen at 96mph.

Mr Gething was pronounced dead at the scene, while Mr Price died a short time later in hospital.

Tests found both men were twice over the drink-drive limit and had consumed a "recreational amount" of cocaine.

Senior coroner Grahame Short said the car was being driven in a "foolhardy" manner.

He added: "It may be that [Mr Price] was doing something in the form of seeing how close he could get before avoiding the bus."

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