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Lancashire teenagers' car crash deaths ruled accidental
6:34pm Tuesday 8th November 2011 in North Turton
A CORONER today recorded two 17-year-old Lancashire girls died accidentally in a car crash as their boyfriends denied they had been racing them.
Nail technician students Danielle Lanchester and Carly Notton, both from Blackpool, suffered multiple injuries as their vehicle left the road, hit a tree and plunged down an embankment into fields.
They were pronounced dead at the scene in Poulton-le-Fylde last November.
Dylan Greenwood, 19, and Corey Lotriet, 21, told an inquest into the girls' deaths that Miss Lanchester drove erratically in front of them as she swerved from side to side on the straight road and they kept their distance behind in their vehicle.
They said they both thought her Renault Clio was swerving deliberately as loud music blared out of the vehicle and they danced on the seats.
But a passing motorist said one of the men told him at the accident scene that both cars had been "racing down the road".
Mr Greenwood - who was engaged to Miss Lanchester - and Mr Lotriet were arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving at the time as police said one line of inquiry was the possibility that the two cars were racing each other.
In February both men were told by Lancashire Constabulary they would face no further action as there was nothing to suggest they had done anything to cause the collision.
Sitting at Fleetwood Magistrates' Court, Blackpool deputy coroner Christopher Beverley said: "What does seem likely is that these two young people were in their car with their music probably playing quite loud and there was clearly an element of moving.
"It is very likely that in responding to the rhythm of the music there was a degree of movement on the steering wheel while it was no longer possible to control that movement, with the tragedy ensuing.
"These were two delightful young women. They had everything to live for.
"No-one could have predicted what happened that fateful evening."
The accident investigation concluded it was "likely" the Clio was driving in excess of the 50mph speed limit on Garstang Road East on the night of November 28 but it was not possible to say by how much.
There was no other independent evidence to say how fast Mr Greenwood's Ford Fiesta was travelling or how close behind, but there was no evidence either car touched.
There were no relevant defects to either car and the road conditions were not a problem, with no clear reason as to why the Clio began to swerve.
Miss Lanchester was driving her friend home after they had watched The X Factor on television and had had a minor row with their boyfriends who followed behind.
Following the crash in which Miss Lanchester's vehicle ended upside down and bent into a V-shape, witness Luke Smith told the hearing the two men flagged him down.
He said: "One of them said 'There has been a crash'. Both were hysterical, they kept on putting their hands over their heads.
"One of the males then said either 'Me and his girlfriend were racing down the road' or 'Me and my girlfriend were racing down the road'."
The coroner asked Mr Smith if he was certain those were the words used.
"Yes," replied Mr Smith. "I said to them 'How has this happened?'. One of them said he didn't know but they were racing down the road."
In a statement, Mr Greenwood told the hearing Miss Lanchester was driving "quite erratically" and "taking corners a little too fast".
"In my opinion, Danielle was always a bit of a bad driver," he said.
He said she speeded up and started swerving across the road, which he thought she was doing on purpose.
"I backed off because I thought something bad was going to happen," he said.
"I would just like to add here I was not racing Danielle at any stage. I was always behind her. I did nothing to affect her.
"It was a terrible thing to happen. I feel for all the people affected."
In his statement, Mr Lotriet said he considered Mr Greenwood to be a "good and safe driver", while Danielle was "quite the opposite" as he described her as a "dangerous driver".
He also put forward the theory that Miss Notton may have grabbed the wheel before they left the road as he said it was something she had done before.
The coroner later stated there was no evidence this took place.
He added that he had been "deeply affected" by the incident.
"I am sorry for the girls' families," he said. "I am truly sorry for their loss."
Giving evidence, both men repeated their denials they were racing the girls or that one of them had made the "racing" comments to Mr Smith.
Miss Notton's mother, Coral, told the inquest her only child was "a beautiful, fun-loving girl".
"She was idolised by her parents," she said. "Our hearts are broken, she is missed so much."
Miss Lanchester's mother, Angela, said: "She was kind and would do anything for anyone. She was such a caring, loving daughter.
"Her place will never be filled."
Following the inquest, a statement issued on behalf of Coral Notton and her husband, Michael, said the couple could not understand why the original police statements made by Mr Greenwood and Mr Lotriet were not admissible to the Coroner.
They said they were considering a private prosecution and are requesting the original statements made to the police.
They added: "We are also shocked and hurt that Greenwood and Lotriet haven't said sorry or made an apology of any sort, not even a condolence or sympathy card."
Inspector David Old said: "I would like to pass my most sincere condolences to the families and friends of Carly Notton and Danielle Lanchester.
"This was a tragic incident which has left two families completely devastated.
"I can only hope the conclusion of the inquest will bring them some closure and they can begin to at least try and move forward with their lives, although I fully appreciate these are deaths you can never get over.
"Lancashire Constabulary carried out a detailed inquiry into the cause of the collision and all possible contributing factors were investigated thoroughly.
"This has been a very difficult investigation for all involved due to the tragic circumstances surrounding it.
"Both families have been supported by specially trained officers throughout the investigation and will continue to receive support where necessary.
"Once again I would like to offer my sympathies to the friends and families of the two young people who tragically lost their lives, my thoughts are with them at this time."
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