A ‘HOT HATCH’ Ford Fiesta accelerated to just over 90 miles per hour before the driver lost control and crashed sideways into the front of a BMW killing both the young men inside, an inquest has found.

Callum James Gilbert, 23 from Hayle and Daniel Christopher Cox, 24, from Chichester in West Sussex both died when Gilbert’s Fiesta collided with a BMW M4 driven by Mark Wilson on the A3083 near RNAS Culdrose, shortly after 9.10pm on Wednesday, December 7, 2022.

All three men were serving personnel at RNAS Culdrose naval base. Mr Wilson was injured in the accident.

Despite the best efforts of members of the public and emergency services both Gilbert and Cox died after suffering un-survivable injuries.

The driver of the BMW, Mr Mark Wilson was too ill to attend an inquest into their deaths in Truro today and his statement was read out by coroner Andrew Cox.

In it he said that he was an aircraft engineer based at RNAS Culdrose.

He said he had left work as normal to go home to St Ives on the day of the accident and was travelling along the A3083.

He said the visibility was good and although it was cold there was no ice. As he took a right hand bend alongside the base, he saw what he described as a “dark blob” coming towards him.

He then realised that it was a small black car and the reason it looked like a dark blob was because it was coming towards him sideways so he couldn’t see its headlights.

“It was moving across the road into my lane,” he said. “The car was moving too quickly for me to avoid. It came right at me and I just braced for impact.

“I can remember seeing the front seat passenger trying to lean away from me but the collision was unavoidable at that point I could see the passenger as the car was coming towards me which I believe was a Ford Fiesta with the passenger side towards me.”

He said the collision happened and he thinks he lost consciousness. The next thing he remembered was lifting his head and realising there had been a collision.

“There was blood streaming down from head and I wondered if it was the end for me,” he said.

Falmouth Packet: Flowers were left at the scene of the accident on the A3803 outside RNAS CuldroseFlowers were left at the scene of the accident on the A3803 outside RNAS Culdrose (Image: Newsquest)

He said there was a feeling of intense pain in his hips and groin areas and he wondered if his legs were OK or whether they were severely damaged. He said he was struggling to breathe as his chest felt damaged.

He tried to get out of the car and got his seatbelt undone but his right hand was broken and was bloodied and covered in glass.

He said a man helped him out of the car and they stood by the side of the road as the emergency services did their work. He said the Royal Navy fire brigade turned up and tried to help those in the other car.

“I remember feeling very sorry for those in the other car,” he said. He was taken to hospital and treated for his injuries before being able to go home the next day. It was mentioned at the inquest that he’d suffered physically and psychologically since the accident.

A 15-second video from the dashcam of Mr Wilson’s BMW was played at the inquest by the coroner.

The vehicle examiner told the inquest that the ‘Hot Hatch’ was a pretty quick car that could accelerate from 0-60mph in just over six seconds. He said he found no mechanical defect with either vehicles although the three remaining inflated tyres on the Fiesta were under inflated at 22psi when the recommended level for this vehicle was 26psi. This would not be a problem at the recommended speed limit but at high speed it could be, he said.

The speedometer on the Fiesta had stopped at 56mph which indicated the speed at impact. All the men were wearing seatbelts.

The inquest was told that software on the infotainment system on board the Fiesta which recorded the pair’s journey was downloaded by the police.

It showed they set off from Hayle at around 8.30pm and stopped at Hayle, McDonalds before joining the A3083 where it recorded going past the 60mph sign. At some point just before the accident, the software showed the car hit a speed of 90.7mph.

Andrew Fletcher forensic collision investigator told the inquest that he attended the scene of the accident a few hours after it had happened. He said conditions were fine and dry.

He said the BMW was broadside across the road while the Fiesta was up in the Cornish hedge with its front down. The engine block had been ripped from the chassis. He said it was a collision of significant speed.

He said unusually he found no tyre marks on the road at any point. He said from the dashcam footage it appeared the driver of the Fiesta had been steering ‘harshly’ to the right to correct an instability that had occurred on the bend.

He said the speed would have been a major factor in the driver losing control and the fact the tyres were under inflated would have become more significant.

Questioned about the speedometer reading of 56 miles and hour, Mr Fletcher said he was quite certain that at some point prior to the accident the Fiesta had attained a speed of 90.7mph.


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Recording a finding that both men died as a result of a road traffic accident, Mr Cox said there was nothing in the toxicology evidence that provided an explanation, so there was no consumption of alcohol, prescribed or illicit drugs or medication that could explain the collision.

“What it seems to me on a balance probability is far more likely than not to be the cause of this collision is excess speed on the part of Mr Gilbert,” he said. “Mr Wilson had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time I cannot see that there was anything that he could have done to have avoided this collision.”

Asked by the father of passenger Mr Cox whether he would be recommending any safety measures for the road, he said he would not, saying: “If a driver drives at 90 mph on the road that is subject to a 60 mile per hour speed limit, there's a limit to what safety features you can put in place to avoid a collision. It is the speed of Mr Gilbert's car here which in my view as being the cause of this collision not due to the condition of the road surface or anything else of that nature.”

He offered his condolences to the families of both men.