Man dies on road between Eastbourne and Hastings

A man who was more than twice over the legal drink-drive limit died after crashing into a lamppost on the A259 near the Pevensey Roundabout, an inquest at Eastbourne heard today (Thursday).

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 4:16 pm

Dryden Mitchell, 44, from Earl Street in Hastings, was pronounced dead at the scene after he crashed his 2007 model silver Vauxhall Corsa in the early hours of July 23 after failing to negotiate a left-hand turn on the road between Hill Farm and Pevensey Roundabout.

A post mortem blood test found Mr Mitchell to be two and a quarter times over the legal drink-drive limit.

The events manager was one of three drivers travelling eastbound on the A259 that night at around 11.30pm, the inquest heard.

Chris Bailey, a railway worker who had just finished his shift, was driving his black Jeep Renegade on the 60mph limit road that evening and was directly behind Mr Mitchell’s car.

He told the inquest, “The driver of the silver Corsa was swaying side to side on the road. I didn’t feel safe behind it. I thought he had been drink-driving. He was driving erratically. After a while I decided to overtake both cars and did so safely.”

Mark Barham, from Hastings, was at the front of the line of cars in his Kia Picanto that night after picking up his daughter in Eastbourne. He told the inquest, “We were going about 50 to 55mph. Both cars overtook me but neither car was going too fast. There was a big moon in the sky that night and we were expecting to see it after the corner but instead we saw the car crashed on its side.”

Paul O’Neill was driving in the opposite direction that night from his home in Hastings to Eastbourne. He said in a statement, “As I approached the bend I saw something fall down on the opposite side of the road. As I got closer I realised it was the underside of a car. It appeared the car had fallen out of the sky.”

Mr O’Neill said he stopped, alerted traffic in both directions and called the emergency services.

The inquest heard DC Lindsey Valder-Davis and PC James Mackintosh attended the scene. DC Valder-Davis said in a statement, “I was driving home alone down that road, the conditions were not good. I came to the vehicle that was on its side. I used my phone as a torch. The windscreen was smashed and the car was badly damaged as was the lamppost. I called through to the driver to comfort him.”

Collision investigator PC Stephen Dessouki-Harman said, “The vehicle failed to negotiate a left-hand turn. The most impactive factor here is the intoxication of Mr Mitchell through alcohol. It seriously impacted his decision-making.”

Coroner Alan Craze said, “This is a tragedy which has affected a lot of people and will go on affecting them.”

The coroner’s conclusion was death by road traffic collision.