Parents may sue after club-goer's death in car crash

THE PARENTS of a Harrogate teenager killed when a car crashed into a road sign may take legal action against Sheffield City Council.

The car of four friends crashed into a Welcome To Sheffield sign earlier this year, killing 19-year-old Lauren Charteris, whose parents Maralyn and Stephen are now considering legal action.

Coroner Chris Dorries recorded verdicts of unlawful killing on Lauren and second passenger Samuel Furness, of Bakewell, at an inquest held in Sheffield last week.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded for best friend and driver Katie Emmott, 18, of Knaresborough, who lost control of the car, at 6.10am, on May 26.

Only one passenger survived in the crash, which happened as the group made their way home from a Birmingham nightclub.

Tests showed all three victims used recreational drugs, while Katie had significant levels of amphetamine, ecstasy and ketamine in her blood.

This week Mr and Mrs Charteris, of Skipton Road, are said to be 'trying to take stock of the situation', according to their solicitor Deborah Anderson, of Irwin Mitchell.

Ms Anderson said: "They are really taking stock of what happened and are considering their position in legal proceedings. They are considering litigation against the council. It's a difficult time for them."

Although Ms Anderson said the family are considering legal action against the council, she emphasised that nothing has been confirmed as yet.

"As far as the family are concerned, they can't bring their daughter back but at least with the inquest out the way they can start putting the pieces of their life back together," she said.

At the inquest Mr Dorries said he would write to the Secretary of State for Transport, with details of the crash, asking for consideration of the law regarding the positioning of signs.

He said: "I am concerned that such a substantial structure as this road sign should be placed close to the edge of a busy carriageway on the apex of a bend. There seems to be no legislation governing this. I also note this was not a vital directional or warning sign."

Mr Dorries said he accepted that countless cars drive safely around the bend every day but said this does not detract from the tragedy.

"None of this detracts from the dreadful truth that three intelligent and capable young people have lost their lives in a collision with a road sign that was described by the accident investigator as 'having no advantage.' "

When recording his verdicts Mr Dorries said it would be 'wholly perverse and unreasonable' to conclude that Katie's driving was not impaired.

He said: "I am satisfied by the evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the driver of the motor vehicle was impaired through drugs at the time of the incident."

These findings led Mr Dorries to deliver verdicts of unlawful killing on both passengers.