Boot trapped under classic Mini pedal linked to death of James Griffiths
PROMISING young agricultural engineer James Griffiths probably died because his boot got caught under the pedals of his classic Mini, an inquest heard.
James Griffiths, 18, had experienced problems with his work boot sticking under the pedals and had vowed to wear trainers when he drove in future.
But on the day of his death he was wearing the wide boots again to drive.
James had bought the 1980 car when he was just 13, and completely restored it with the help of his father.
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But as he was on his way to college on a damp winter morning near his home, he drove straight across a major road without slowing down.
He collided with another car.
He was not wearing a seatbelt and might have taken it off to try and free his trapped foot, Gloucestershire Deputy Coroner David Dooley heard.
James, of Victory Row, Coates, near Cirencester, was a student at Lackham College, near Chippenham.
He had been intending to start restoring a derelict classic tractor at the time of his death, and as a tribute, his fellow students and the staff of the college carried out the work in his memory, and presented the finished vehicle to his parents Julie and Colin.
The other driver involved in the crash, which happened at the junction of the lane from Coates village and the main A433 Cirencester to Tetbury Road, was Janet Burton.
She told the coroner that she had been travelling at about 50 miles an hour. The speed limit was 60mph.
"I was approaching a cross roads and the next thing I knew a car came from the right directly in front of me," she said.
"I hit it square on almost centrally and my car went into the ditch on the left."
Witness Mark Payne said: "Both cars flew into the air and the Mini landed and went into the ditch on the left."
He stopped and went to the Mini and saw the driver, Mr Griffiths, had come out of the car. He thought he was dead.
He and other witnesses forced the door of Mrs Burton's car open and helped her out.
James' mother said his Mini was his pride and joy, and was in perfect condition.
Accident investigator PC Dave Holland said he had measured the gap between the pedals of the Mini and the width of James' boots.
"It was quite possible for the boot to have become stuck under the pedals and for him to have taken his seatbelt off to try and free it. He was a big man and it was a very small car," he said. "It was also possible for the boot to be caught under the brake but still be on the accelerator."
Summing up, Mr Dooley said that however the impact had come about, each of the possibilities came to the same verdict of accident.