Beds, Herts & Bucks

Welwyn crash death driver had taken MDMA

James Bartell Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption James Bartell was a father-of-two

A man who died when the car he was driving crashed into a tree had a "very significant quantity" of drugs in his system, an inquest heard.

James Bartell, 29, lost control of a Ford KA in Heath Road in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, and died at the scene.

Hatfield Coroner's Court heard the level of MDMA in Mr Bartell's system was within the range of those who have overdosed on the drug and died.

TV star Alesha Dixon's brother was seriously injured in the crash.

Toxicology reports on Mr Bartell, a delivery driver from Welwyn Garden City, also showed evidence of cocaine use.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption His car swerved across a road and into woodland before crashing into a tree

The court heard the father-of-two was driving on the "winding road" with the Britain's Got Talent judge's brother, John Lonergan, in the passenger seat when he lost control of the car at about 16:45 BST.

The black KA, which was travelling at 49-60mph, swerved across the road and into a woodland area before crashing into a tree on 27 August.

Two women who were on a dog walk at the time said they had to "jump out of the way" to avoid being hit.

Mr Lonergan was seriously injured but managed to get out of the car. Fire crews had to remove the roof of the vehicle to release Mr Bartell, who had died from his injuries.

'Inappropriate driving'

PC Steven Goates, of the Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire Roads Policing Unit, said three of the car's tyres were "significantly overinflated" - one by 60%.

"The loss of control was likely to be caused by impairment through drugs, inappropriate driving for the nature of the road and overinflated tyres," he said.

His cause of death was recorded as multiple trauma due to road side injuries.

Senior coroner for Hertfordshire Geoffrey Sullivan concluded Mr Bartell died as a result of a road traffic collision but said the use of MDMA and cocaine contributed to his death.

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