Tragedy on the way to the shop

An evening walk to the shop for sweets ended in tragedy for two teenage boys last May when one of them was fatally hit by a car near Donaghcloney, an inquest in Lisburn heard last week.

David Andrew Preece, 14, of Iveagh Court in Blackskull, was hit as he walked home on a minor country road that had no footpaths at about 10.20pm on May 5 last year.

His father Michael Preece, who had rushed to the scene of the accident, paid tribute to David. “He was just my son,” he said. “He was very easy-going and was a whizz at computers. Nothing was a problem to him.”

He had been told how David met a stranger who needed help at a bus stop and how the teenager got onto the bus to help. “He would look after everyone,” he said.

His son made tea for him and looked after all his direct debits “but did no housework”, he quipped.

Coroner Jim Kitson reassured Mr Preece that David would have lost consciousness immediately and did not suffer after the accident.

David’s friend, Andrew Wright, described what happened. “When we heard a car we would go into single file,” he said. “He was behind my shoulder at the time. I heard a bang and thought he had clipped his wing mirror.”

David ended up 10 metres ahead of Andrew in a hedge, he said.

Sarah Crory, 28, from Banbridge, was driving the black Audi A3 that hit David.

She had come off a well-lit road and still had her headlights dipped. Coming around a bad bend she had gone down a hill and was just rising up another when the collision happened.

“I didn’t really see them until they were right in front of me,” she said. “It was pitch black.”

A forensic scientist said Ms Crory was travelling between 19mph and 29mph.

“The driver did not have sufficient time to perceive the pedestrian as a hazard regardless of whether she was using full beam or dipped beam,” he said.

The coroner concluded that the “vivacious and intelligent” teenager died from serious head injuries.

He noted that David’s family had been very proud of him as a son and brother. His twin sister Amy looked up to him “as a mentor and a big brother”. He added: “You have my utmost sympathy.”

It was “extremely regrettable” that Ms Crory was not using a full beam but it was “unlikely” it would have made any difference, he said.