M3 driver struck and killed by van after '100mph crash'

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Tony Smith's family described him as "one of the best men"

A man, killed after getting out of a car following a crash on the M3, had been driving at more than 100mph (161km/h), an inquest has heard.

Tony Smith, 37, died when he was struck by a van moments after his car had crashed into a taxi on 17 October.

The inquest heard he suffered a serious brain injury and subsequent sleep problems following a previous crash in 2011.

Coroner Grahame Short concluded Mr Smith died in a road traffic collision.

Winchester Coroners' Court heard the father-of-two, from Southampton, suffered "unsurvivable" head and spinal injuries when he was hit by the Citroen van on an unlit section of the southbound carriageway near Winchester.

'Fatal decision'

The hearing was told the damage to the vehicles suggested Mr Smith's Mitshibishi had been travelling at about 105mph (169km/h) when it hit the taxi at about 06:30 BST.

After the impact, Mr Smith, who was wearing dark clothing, made the "fatal decision" to leave the car by the driver's side door and was standing in the middle of the fast lane when he was struck by the van which had been travelling at about 50mph (80km/h), the inquest heard.

In a written statement, Mr Smith's mother described how he had suffered a serious brain injury following another crash in 2011.

He recovered his mobility and returned to work but was prone to periods of deep sleep and frequently took sleep breaks while on long car journeys.

He had been working in Lincolnshire until 18:00 the day before the M3 crash, before setting off for Southampton at about 02:00.

Summing up, Mr Short said on the balance of probabilities, Mr Short had "less sleep than was desirable" and it was "quite possible a period of unconsciousness would explain why he didn't react to slower moving vehicles and failed to brake".

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