WITNESSES have described watching a car spin out of control and slide sideways into the front of an oncoming truck, resulting in the death of 19 year old Toby Woolford from Southwater.
An inquest into the trainee electrician’s death, held at Worthing Courts on Thursday, was told there was nothing the HGV driver, who was travelling in the opposite direction, could have done to avoid the crash, on the A27 at Crossbush, just after 7am on August 25.
Paramedics battled to save Toby’s life, but he died soon after the collision.
Angela Standing, Arundel’s town crier, was first on the scene and held Toby’s head, ensuring he could breathe, until firefighters arrived.
Visibly shaken, Mrs Standing told the inquest she was driving into Arundel when it happened.
“There was a car behind me. It looked like it had clipped the kerb,” she said.
“I could see he was struggling to rectify himself. He didn’t, and then he came along sideways. He went into the front of the lorry. The driver did not have anywhere to go.”
Ben Nesbitt was driving the Iveco HGV east-bound, approaching the bend just before the Crossbush Beefeater restaurant.
He said: “Everything was normal. Then this car came round the corner sideways, and crashed into the front of me. It came from round the corner. I didn’t have time to stop. I applied the brakes, there was a second or two, and then it hit.
“I panicked for a bit, then I saw there was one person in the car, and tried to help,” he said, adding he had reversed the truck a small amount, to get it off the Vauxhall Corsa.
“I could see smoke coming out of one or the other, I didn’t know which,” he said.
Toby, an apprentice with Shoreham-based DW Electrical, was travelling from his home in Southwater to a job in Chichester when the crash happened.
PC Stuart Medlycott, a collision investigator with Sussex Police, said it was “very likely” Toby’s car had aquaplaned, or partially-aquaplaned, in the wet conditions, rather than clipped the kerb.
A combination of sudden braking and over-corrective steering could have led to the car spinning out of control, and subsequently into the HGV, he added.
In a statement read out in court, Toby’s mother, Penny Woolford, paid tribute to her son.
She said: “He liked to go to the gym. He was a popular lad and very happy in his relationship with his girlfriend.”
He was very happy, doing a job he loved, which had started just days before, the statement continued.
Speaking after the hearing, she added: “He will always be loved and missed, forever.”
Assistant deputy coroner, Christopher Wilkinson, recorded a verdict of accidental death.
He said: “On the morning of August 25, conditions were wet, there had been a heavy downpour and the road was in a wet condition.
“In all the facts I have heard, the most likely explanation of what happened on the morning of Toby’s death is that it was a tragic accident.
“Mr Nesbitt would have been able to do nothing. I am sure he did everything he could in that split second.”