Young dad who died in Derbyshire scooter crash was over legal drink-drive limit and had taken cocaine, inquest hears

Much-loved Craig Pritchard with his daughter Lacey.
Much-loved Craig Pritchard with his daughter Lacey.

A heartbroken mum whose young son died in a scooter crash after drinking alcohol and taking cocaine says his actions were 'so out of character'.

Young dad Craig Pritchard, 28, of Bramley Vale, passed away on August 19 last year after he 'lost control' of the scooter he was driving, with two friends as passengers, and collided with a road sign on Losk Lane, Palterton, in the early hours of the morning.

Mr Pritchard suffered severe injuries and died at the scene. His two friends survived.

Tests found Mr Pritchard had taken cocaine and was 'two or three' times the legal drink-drive limit.

His family said he was the 'most kind-hearted person' and 'had so much to live for'.

At an inquest at Chesterfield Coroner's Court today, Mr Pritchard's mum, Joanne, said: "The thing that upsets me is it is so out of character.

"He has never been in trouble with the police.

"I can't get my head around why he has done it."

August, 18, 2018

The court heard that on August 18, 2018, Mr Pritchard met up with two life-long friends and they went to a couple of pubs in Bramley Vale.

After drinking two pints, Mr Pritchard and his friends Kirk Canning and Ricky Austin, decided they would go to some pubs in Bolsover.

Mr Pritchard went back home and collected his scooter and helmet while his friends waited outside.

Mr Pritchard's mum, Joanne, who was looking after her grandchild, Lacey, was not aware that her son had left with his scooter and helmet, the court heard.

Mr Pritchard then drove his pals to Bolsover town centre on his scooter and they went to The Cavendish and The Black Bull pubs and drank one more pint each, according to Mr Canning's statement.

Giving evidence at the inquest, PC Richard Howiss, of Derbyshire police, said CCTV footage from The Black Bull pub at about 12.05am on August 19 appeared to show Mr Pritchard using a 'substance', believed to be cocaine.

Mr Canning said he had not taken any drugs and he had not seen anybody else taking any drugs.

Soon after, all three friends left the pub and got back on the scooter, with Mr Pritchard driving again and Mr Canning and Mr Austin riding as passengers.

But as they headed back to Bramley Vale, while travelling on Losk Lane, Palterton, Mr Pritchard was said to have 'lost control' of the scooter and crashed into a road sign at about 12.30am.

With Mr Pritchard and Mr Austin unresponsive, Mr Canning went to get help from a couple living in a nearby house.

Other motorists stopped and CPR was given while an ambulance was called.

No other vehicles were involved.

A search of Mr Pritchard's clothing took place for identification purposes and a 'white powder' was discovered in his jacket pocket. Later tests found it was cocaine.

There were no defects on the road and no defects with the bike which would have contributed to the crash, PC Howiss said.

However, PC Howiss added that the scooter was only designed to carry two people and this would have impacted on the suspension. He also said the rear tyre of the scooter was below the legal limit but this was not a contributing factor because the road was not wet.

In his statement, Mr Canning said he believed Mr Pritchard to be travelling at '40mph to 45mph'. The speed limit for the road is 60mph.

Mr Canning also said that Mr Pritchard's driving 'had changed' on the return journey compared to the way there. He said that he had 'started to worry that it might not be safe'. He was then 'suddenly thrown' from the scooter and was 'dazed'.

Mr Canning and Mr Austin were not wearing a helmet but Mr Pritchard was.

PC Howiss concluded: "Craig had been on a night out and had consumed a considerable amount of alcohol and taken cocaine and he drove his scooter with two friends on the back. During his journey he lost control of that scooter. We can't say anything other than that. There is nothing that points us in another direction."

Coroner Peter Nieto, recording a conclusion of road traffic collision, said the main contributory factors to the crash were alcohol, cocaine and the scooter suspension.

"Craig was putting himself at great risk and also his friends by consuming alcohol," Mr Nieto told the court. "It seems likely that he was using cocaine. It was found in his system and it was on CCTV and it was in his pocket. The combination of alcohol and cocaine means that he was not driving in full capacity in terms of his ability to drive it.

"The moped was unstable because it was designed for a maximum of two people and it was carrying three."

He added: "I am sorry for your loss."