Novice driver Jeff’s death was a tragic accident

Jeff Stenning, 18, who died in a tragic car accident in Wick
Jeff Stenning, 18, who died in a tragic car accident in Wick

A HEARTBROKEN mother whose teenage son was killed when he lost control of his car and crashed has pledged to do whatever she can to improve safety among young drivers.

Samantha Streeter, of Dorset Close, Littlehampton, made the promise after the inquest into the death of her son, Jeff Stenning, 18, who died in a crash on the A259 near Wick, on September 9.

The inquest, at Centenary House, Durrington, heard how Mr Stenning, a soldier with the Royal Logistics Corps, was on leave from the Army when he died.

He had passed his driving test seven months before his death and had recently bought a white Ford Focus.

In the hours leading up to his death he had drunk three cans of beer or cider.

However, toxicology reports showed he was well under the legal limit for alcohol while driving.

Shortly after 9pm he told his mother he was making a ‘five minute’ trip to Tesco to buy more beer and pizza with his girlfriend Leah Pelling, 19.

The inquest heard eyewitness accounts of Mr Stenning’s ‘dangerous’ and ‘irresponsible’ driving as he left the store.

Christopher Green, 25, was driving behind him and witnessed the crash.

He described how Mr Stenning accelerated away from him along the A259 eastbound at speeds which he estimated were about 80 miles per hour. Mr Green said as the speeding Focus reached the road work section of the A259, it turned ‘aggressively’, lost control and started ‘snaking and swerving’ across both lanes before it ploughed into the northern embankment of the road, hitting a lamp-post and pirouetting in the air.

A post-mortem examination of Mr Stenning on September 12 revealed he died of ‘catastrophic’ head and chest injuries. Forensic collision investigator PC Adrian Short said there were no faults with the car which could have contributed to the crash and said the death was due to driver error.

Assistant deputy coroner for West Sussex Dr Karen Henderson concluded Mr Stenning’s death was accidental and was due to his driving inexperience.

She said: “While I appreciate he had further training with the Army, the simple fact is Jeff had not been driving very long. Jeff’s new car had been driven once for a short period of time and it was considerably more powerful than what he had previously been driving. On the balance of probability from what I’ve heard I am satisfied he did not gain sufficient experience on how to drive a car like this.”

Mrs Streeter will now tell the story of her son’s death at courses for young drivers.

She said: “I don’t want other families to go through what we’ve been through.”