SAM MOORHOUSE DEATH: Did a fence, poorly-fitted in the 80s, contribute to tragedy?

Sam Moorhouse with his daughter Darcy. Picture submitted.
Sam Moorhouse with his daughter Darcy. Picture submitted.

A coroner is writing to highways chiefs over concerns about fencing – after a much-loved young father died in a horrific crash on a Derbyshire road.

Sam Moorhouse, 27, was driving his yellow Mini Coupe on the Dronfield bypass when he overtook another car, clipped it and lost control – smashing into and destroying almost 30 metres of wooden fencing.

The Dronfield bypass.

The Dronfield bypass.

Mr Moorhouse was impaled by a piece of wood while his girlfriend, who was in the passenger’s side, suffered extreme head injuries.

During Mr Moorhouse's inquest at Chesterfield coroners' court on Monday, it emerged the fencing – which was put up to separate private land from the road in the 1980s – was not erected according to 'best practice' guidelines.

PC Nigel Varney, of Derbyshire police’s collision investigation unit, told the court: "The fence was constructed with the rails on the road-side of the posts, this being contrary to best practice as set out in the Highways Agency guide manual."

Coroner James Newman said: "I'm conscious that best practice states the rails should be on the side away from the road. It adds that additional safety measure in that the rails can freely fly off away from the vehicle.

"We can't say, on the balance of probability, that the injuries would not have occurred had the fencing been put up according to these guidelines.

"However, I'll write to Derbyshire County Council to make sure the authority is aware of best practice guidelines and that they will be adhered to in the future."

Ashley Teasel told the inquest how he was driving his Vauxhall Corsa on the Dronfield bypass at about 9.15pm on January 23.

He said: "I was travelling in the slow lane. A car came up behind me, overtook me then cut back into the slow lane too soon. It clipped my vehicle and spun off."

Following the crash, Mr Teasel stopped his car and called 999.

Police, paramedics and firefighters attended the scene – but mechanic Mr Moorhouse was sadly pronounced dead just before 9.45pm despite desperate attempts to save his life.

Mr Newman said: "Mr Moorhouse’s injuries are some of the most extreme I've seen reported in a post-mortem examination."

Turning to Mr Moorhouse's parents, he added: "I don't believe your son would have suffered."

The court heard Mr Moorhouse, of King George Street, Wirksworth, was not under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Neither Mr Moorhouse nor Mr Teasel were speeding.

Recording a conclusion of death by a road traffic collision, Mr Newman said: "Mr Moorhouse was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He made a misjudgement. A passing impact caused his Mini to spin out of control and collide with wooden fencing."

Speaking after his son’s death, his father said Mr Moorhouse was loved by many people.