Teenager who died after crashing his ‘pride and joy’ Mini had no sleep in 29 hours, inquest hears
PUBLISHED: 18:21 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:26 25 May 2018
A teenager who died when his “pride and joy” Mini veered off the road before hitting oncoming traffic had gone 29 hours without sleep prior to the crash, an inquest heard.
Matthew Woodward, 18, of Shropham Road, Great Hockham, was due to pick his girlfriend up shortly after 5am on the morning of Saturday, September 2.
At around 5am, having last messaged his girlfriend at 4.33am saying he would pick her up in 30-40mins, he was driving in the direction of Mundford when his Mini veered off the A134 and travelled 48 metres along the road’s verge.
The inquest heard Mr Woodward tried to steer his way back onto the road, but overcompensated when he drove over the entrance to the Lynford Stag car park.
His vehicle then swung into the path of a Vauxhall Zafira travelling in the other direction, driven by Odair Fialho - who was giving lifts home to colleagues from the Quorn factory where they worked and was seriously injured in the crash.
Mr Woodward’s girlfriend said that her partner never took drugs or drove drunk. She also said she had never seen him use his phone at the wheel.
Providing analysis for the police report on the case, Prof Jim Horne - who runs the Loughborough Sleep Research Centre - said that the skid marks on the road were consistent with someone in a stage of micro-sleep, which is when a person’s eyes are open but the brain is in a state of trance.
He said: “The amount of normal grip had been exceeded having left the carriageway and the driver tried to effect the steering.”
PC Lee Smart noted in his report that Mr Woodward had not slept for more than a day, but that the exact reason for the 18-year-old leaving the road had not been established.
Concluding, senior coroner Jacqueline Lake recorded the death as being caused by a road traffic collision and said there was nothing the driver of the Zafira could have done to avoid the crash.