St Albans boy, 16, who died after colliding with campervan was driving at over 60mph, inquest hears
PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:29 10 November 2016
A popular teenage boy who died after colliding with a parked campervan in an unlit residential St Albans street was driving at over 60 miles per hour, an inquest has heard.
Student Harley Tobias, of St John’s Court, off Beaumont Avenue, died at the age of 16 in St Mary’s Hospital on October 21 last year.
An inquest into his death, held at Herts Coroners’ Court yesterday (Wednesday), heard that Harley had taken his mother’s car, a Vauxhall Astra, without her knowledge, in the early hours of October 20 and drove along Marshal’s Drive, where he collided with a parked campervan at about 2am.
PC Edward Colley, a forensic collision investigator, said he estimated that Harley was driving between 64 and 74mph at the time of impact.
CCTV footage provided by some residents in Marshal’s Drive helped him reach that conclusion, and the speedometer dial had stopped at 67mph upon impact.
The court heard that the campervan was parked in the street by the vehicle’s owner, who was staying with friends.
Coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said that the owner was awoken by a “loud crash noise and saw that the campervan had appeared to have been crashed into by something, and it had been shifted further along the road into next door’s driveway”.
However, it was “so dark, that they couldn’t see another vehicle” at first.
Paramedics and the Magpas Air Ambulance attended Harley, who had suffered a cardiac arrest, collapsed lungs and other serious injuries. After performing CPR on him for 20 minutes, he was taken to Watford General Hospital, where he had a blood transfusion, and it was decided that because of the seriousness of his injuries, he should be taken to St Mary’s Hospital’s major trauma centre.
But scans there showed that injuries to his brain were not survivable.
The coroner paid tribute to the family for allowing Harley’s organs to be donated on October 22.
He also raised questions about Harley’s mental health care leading up to his death, as he had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) while studying at Beaumont School.
One of three witnesses who spoke at the inquest, Dr Prema Raman, a consultant child psychiatrist at West Herts, apologised to his grieving family, also present, saying that while Harley was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), because of his ADHD and anxiety problems, there was no follow-up after she initially saw him in March 2013.
Harley was then re-referred by his GP after suffering further problems, including not being able to sleep, in January 2015.
His father, Adam, told the coroner that Harley started attending Links Academy in November 2013.
He added that apart from there being no immediate follow-up with CAMHS several years ago, he also believed his son felt like a ‘failure’ at Beaumont and this impacted on his feeling of self-worth.
In the months before his death, following the re-referral, Dr Raman had prescribed medication to ease the symptoms of ADHD, and help Harley sleep at night.
The coroner noted that Harley was ‘obsessed’ with joining the Royal Marines from the age of three, and he “loved cars and bikes, and was popular with a large group of people”.
He determined that Harley died of a traumatic brain injury, following a road traffic collision, and recorded the fact that the teenager’s organs had been donated to help others.