Seat belt could have saved life of Aldenham death crash driver
- Credit: Andrew Styczynski. Photo courtesy of The Sun
A MILLIONAIRE property developer could have survived a fatal sports car crash had he been wearing a seat belt, an inquest was told on Tuesday.
William Mackenzie, otherwise known as William Baranos, died on Sunday, August 19, last year from multiple traumatic injuries after losing control of his car in Watford.
The black Pagani Zonda left the road at the junction of Hartspring Lane and Berry Grove Lane and crashed into a fence.
An inquest heard that the doors of the car came off and the 52 year old was ejected out of the car onto the pathway, causing head injuries, three fractured ribs and a fractured spine.
His passenger, Jack Harper, a friend of his sons, only suffered minor injuries as he was wearing a seat belt.
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Assistant Deputy Herts Coroner Alison Grief read out Mr Harper’s statement given to the police just after the accident, in which he referred to the car driving at “full throttle” on the day of the incident and “the quickest thing” he had ever been in.
At the inquest Mr Harper, in his 20s, spoke of getting in the car with Mr Mackenzie, who lived in a wing of Wall Hall Mansion, Aldenham, with his wife and child, following a barbecue at the family home.
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They drove for “about a minute” before losing control and crashing. Mr Harper said there was a “sudden acceleration” shortly before the accident.
He added Mr Mackenzie “very rarely” wore a seatbelt, and said: “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him not with one on.”
Tamara Tallentire, an eyewitness to the incident, was driving behind Mr Mackenzie with her husband, three children and dog. She said Mr Mackenzie “floored it” on the road and they lost sight of him.
The witness added: “My husband and I looked at each other and actually commented on how fast he was driving on that stretch of road.”
It was only a couple of minutes until they caught up with the car, by which time Mr Mackenzie had crashed and Ms Tallentire got out to assist him and the passenger.
Pc Robert Jackson, from Hitchin’s collision investigation unit, described very narrow tyre marks which curved and indicated the rear tyres swerving sideways.
According to his calculations, Mr Jackson suggested the car would have been doing 60mph at the very least in a 30mph speed zone.
He explained the car collided with several concrete fence posts before hitting the fence, which left parts of the car including the bonnet and the doors scattered across the road.
He said: “It’s likely Mr Mackenzie would have survived if he’d had a seatbelt on. Someone who is ejected from a vehicle is far more likely to suffer injuries.
“Mr Mackenzie was travelling at the same speed as the vehicle. As the vehicle starts to turn and hits the fence, if you’re wearing a seat belt you slow down with the vehicle.
“If you’re not connected to the vehicle you leave, so as the vehicle came sideways he came out through the side door.”
He added that no defect was found in the high-performance car, which retails at around £900,000.
The assistant deputy coroner summarised by saying Mr Mackenzie had no distractions while driving and there was nothing about the road environment that would have contributed to the accident, bar a very slight dip.
She said: “The reason that this collision occurred is because Mr Mackenize decided to accelerate the car at a point, at a time and at a place which was unsafe to do so.
“It’s a tragedy because it was highly likely that if Mr Mackenzie had been wearing a seat belt we wouldn’t be having this inquest today.
“If you do not wear a seat belt you are literally taking your life in your own hands.”
She ruled that the death was accidental.