Conisbrough crash inquest - Doncaster coroner calls for safety drive on notorious accident blackspot

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A Doncaster coroner is calling for the speed to be reduced on a notorious accident black spot that claimed the lives of five school friends travelling in the same car.

Speaking today at an inquest into the deaths of 18-year-olds Arpad Kore Bartosz Bortniczak and 16-year-olds Blake Cairns, Jordanna Goodwin and Megan Storey Senior Coroner Nicola Mundy said she would write to Doncaster council’s highways department urging them to reduce the speed limit to 40mph on the scene of the crash in Sheffield Road, Conisbrough - also known locally as ‘the drag’.

Ms Mundy told Doncaster coroners’ court she was taking this step in a bid to stop others from dying on the same 100 metre stretch of road, where 10 fatalities have occurred over the last decade.

She said: “I cannot ignore what I have heard about the number of fatalities that have occurred on this stretch of road. I’m calling for serious consideration to be given to alter the speed limit.”

Bartosz was driving a Toyota Corolla when it fatally collided with a Seat Leon going in the opposite direction. All five of the teens died as a result of the injuries sustained in the collision.

The court was told that while Bartosz was believed to have been travelling at around 12 mph over the national speed limit of 60mph approaching the scene of the collision - it was his attempt to ‘over-steer’ and letting go of the accelerator pedal whilst coming round the bend on Sheffield Road which ultimately led to him losing control of the vehicle.

Crash scene investigator Adrian Burgoyne concluded that this would have resulted in the car rotating - fatally positioning it diagonally across the dual-carriageway as the Seat Leon travelling at around 40mph approached in the opposite direction and collided with the rear-side of the Toyota Corolla.

He added: “The car could have made it round the bend at that speed (of between 72-73mph). When testing in a similar vehicle at around 80mph afterwards it was able to safely navigate the bend. There must have been some input from the driver of the vehicle to cause it to over steer in such a way. It’s a very minor driver error but it’s resulted in a very tragic incident occurring.”

Mr Burgoyne added that the ‘horrendously’ foggy conditions on the night of the accident could have had an impact on Bartosz’s perception of where the bend was as he approached it.

Addressing the families of the crash victims Mr Burgoyne, who arrived on the scene just over half an hour after the collision occurred, said he had never seen such a concerted effort from the emergency services to save lives in his 20 years in the role.

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The court heard how driver Bartosz had passed his driving test in May last year, and had brought the Toyota Corolla two months later.

His mother, Agnieszka Bortniczak described Bartosz as a ‘good driver’ who was always mindful of the speed limit in place.

The court was told the Bartosz had a completely clean driving license, and toxicology reports showed that he tested negative for alcohol and drugs at the time of the crash - as did Arpad, Blake, Jordanna and Megan.

The teens had met up with two friends in the car park of McDonalds at Balby retail park who arrived there in a black Vauxhall Corsa prior to the accident.

The two groups left together in their respective vehicles a short time after and made their way on to the A630, travelling towards Conisbrough.

The black Vauxhall Corsa was about 150 yards in front of the car containing the five friends when it crashed.

Ben York - the 21-year-old driver of the Corsa was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving shortly after the collision in November last year, however the case was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service in July due to being unable to find evidence to prove ‘to the very high standard required in a criminal case’ that the man contributed to the crash.

PC Andrew Brown, of the serious collisions team, told the court that they had received a number of witness statements, one which claimed to have seen the cars racing, and one that suggested they were travelling behind each other.

However, the foggy conditions of the night of the crash meant that none of the witnesses were able to accurately identify any of the vehicles.

The weather conditions also affected what evidence could be taken from CCTV footage gathered from a nearby petrol station.

Ms Mundy said she was satisfied that there was no evidence to suggest the two groups were ‘racing’.

She said she did not believe that the five ‘popular and well-mannered’ crash victims had engaged in any sort of ‘reckless behaviour’ prior to the crash.

“Bartosz lost control of the vehicle, this may have been due to the foggy conditions or possibly to his inexperience as a driver.

“It was a mistake,” added Ms Mundy.

She recorded a verdict of accidental death for all five teens.