THE passenger in a car which ended up ‘wrapped’ around a tree trunk was lucky to be alive after the vehicle spun off the road, an inquest heard.
Former soldier Brett Whitfield, of Thornley Close, Lymm, died in the crash on his 22nd birthday after putting his seatbelt on while driving down Cherry Lane, Lymm, in January this year.
His 18-year-old girlfriend Zoe Wright, who suffered breaks to her pelvis and spine, shouted at him as he started drifting towards hedges on the left of the road before he swerved to the right and overcorrected the car.
It led to Mr Whitfield, who was driving a Vauxhall Corsa bought for him by his sister for his 21st birthday, losing control before hitting two trees.
The couple were driving from McDonald’s to Mr Whitfield’s house to celebrate his birthday with a bottle of wine.
Zoe said she was singing along to Nelly’s Just A Dream on the radio before the accident.
She added: “The car started to spin and I thought we were going to crash.
“I must have knocked myself out on the window because I remember waking up and trying to move my feet but the dashboard had moved down.
“There was smoke coming from somewhere but I couldn’t see Brett.”
A passerby, who was first aid trained, could feel a faint pulse from Mr Whitfield after the crash but it faded before ambulances arrived.
There were no traces of alcohol or drugs in Mr Whitfield’s system and no problems with the car that could have led to the accident.
It was estimated by a collision investigation team that he was travelling between 46 and 56mph before the crash on the 60mph road and there were no patches of ice near the crash scene.
Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg told Warrington Coroner's Court on Monday: “I’m amazed that Zoe survived the crash.
“Mr Whitfield was driving in a perfectly normal fashion when he began to put his seatbelt on with inevitably one hand off the steering wheel and it looks as though he overreacted and got into a terrible fishtailing motion.”
A verdict of multiple injuries as a result of an accident was recorded.