Popular Harrogate man over twice the limit during fatal crash

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A hugely popular Harrogate man was over two times the legal limit when he was killed in a car crash near Nidd last year.

An inquest heard that Paul Whitehead, 44, died when his silver Mitsubishi Coupe left the road and hit a tree on the B6165 at around 5.20pm on Friday, November 28.

Crash scene at the B6165

Crash scene at the B6165

After finishing work early at Nidd Valley Stone, Mr Whitehead travelled to his regular pub, the Commercial Hotel in Knaresborough, where he consumed six pints of alcohol.

Mr Whitehead was then travelling home on the B6165 and, assistant coroner Jonathan Heath heard he was travelling at speed and overtaking other road users when he lost control of his vehicle.

Witnesses at the inquest recalled how his car had become airborne as he approached an S-bend before travelling through a hedge, hitting a tree stump and then a tree trunk.

Police inspecting the scene pronounced Mr Whitehead dead at the scene.

They also concluded that he was not wearing his seat belt at the time and his tyres were under inflated which may have caused him to lose control.

At the inquest, Andrew Whitehead described his brother as a ‘happy-go-lucky rascal’ and said that he was generally a ‘safe and experienced driver’.

He said: “We used to play football together, go fishing and we got closer as we got older.

“Me and my friends went to watch Paul and his band in gigs as he was an accomplished bass player.

“He had three groups of friends and was very popular. He liked being outdoors in the Yorkshire Dales and riding his new expensive motorbike.

“He would go to the pub on weekends and sometimes a couple of times in the week. He was a happy go lucky optimist.”

In a written statement, Mr Whitehead’s manager at Nidd Valley Stone, John Devaney, described him as a ‘steady, thoughtful worker’ and classed him as ‘irreplaceable’.

Karen Chapman, who was in one of the cars overtaken on November 28, told the inquest how she thought Mr Whitehead was driving too fast considering the layout of the road.

She said: “I saw lights behind me but they were a way back, maybe three or four cars back, but then this car just over took me and I thought ‘where is he going?’.

“I went round the corner and I just saw this car in the air, going left to right across the road. It was like a scene in a film.”