A ‘car mad’ teenager from Horsham tragically died in a collision on the A24 – just two months after passing his driving test, an inquest has heard.
Piers Montague, 19, who lived with his family in Cripplegate Lane, Southwater, died after his Ford Fiesta was involved in a collision on the A24 between Buck Barn crossroads and Southwater on June 12, last year.
An inquest into his death took place at Crawley Coroner’s Court on Tuesday (May 14).
It heard how the 19-year-old passed his driving test ‘with ease’ last April, and drove almost every day afterwards.
On the morning of June 12, Piers went to collect his car from a garage in Broadbridge Heath with his sister Karis. The pair then drove onto Billingshurst to have lunch. Piers wanted to stay out longer so they went their separate ways.
The inquest was then told that Karis texted Piers at 5.15pm, as she had not heard from him, but she did not get an answer. Not long afterwards the police came over to the family’s house to deliver the tragic news.
Police officer Richard Moller attended the fatal collision on June 12. He told the inquest that a Ford Fiesta and MG were involved.
He said Piers, who was driving the black Ford Fiesta, had approached the MG and ‘maneuvered rapidly’. He then lost control of the vehicle, he said.
Steven Butler was driving the MG accompanied by his partner and three children. In a statement read out in the inquest, he said he was heading north on the A24 after stopping to get a McDonald’s at Buck Barn. He said a black car came up close to him, so close that he could not see the car’s headlights. He said he wanted to get out of the car’s way, which was ‘one second on the left, then on the right’.
A statement from eyewitness Daniel Stewart was also read out in the inquest. He said he saw the Ford Fiesta driving very close to the MG, and what happened next was ‘very quick’.
The Ford Fiesta lost control, he said, and hit the MG and then left the road and went down a bank into trees and bushes. Mr Stewart then called 999.
The inquest heard that a woman from St John Ambulance came over to assist after seeing what happened.
Piers was wearing a seatbelt, the inquest was told. He was treated at the scene but was tragically pronounced dead.
Assistant coroner Chris Wilkinson recorded a conclusion of accidental death.
He told the inquest: “This was a young lad wearing a seatbelt who was no doubt pleased to have his car back, but got this maneuver wrong, lost control of the vehicle, and sadly died.”
He added that Piers was driving at a reasonable speed, and it could not be confirmed whether he tried to deliberately undertake the MG, but he had ‘sadly got his steering wrong’.
A statement from his mother Tina Montague was read out at the inquest.
It said: “Piers had always had good health, he had a normal childhood with no major issues and he had many friends in Southwater.
“He was just about to start work as a delivery driver having passed the interview.
“His sister Stacey died two years ago, which affected the whole family.
“Piers started to learn to drive, he was car mad, a Nissan Skyline was his favourite.”
Piers’ father and sister told the inquest that Piers always seemed like a sensible and safe driver.
A post-mortem examination was carried out and the cause of death was confirmed as a result of head injuries due to a road traffic collision.
Piers was teetotal, the inquest heard. Assistant coroner Chris Wilkinson said it was ‘impressive for a lad his age’.