‘Wrong way’ driver died after M4 police pursuit
A driver who “handbrake turned” his car the wrong way on a motorway while being pursued by police died when he hit another car head-on, an inquest heard.
Darran Walker, 36, drove off after police stopped behind him, believing he had broken down on the M4 slip road in December 2016, jurors were told.
The inquest heard, after a pursuit, his car turned around and went the wrong way up the slip road at junction seven.
Jurors heard Mr Walker’s Peugeot hit a Vauxhall and he died “on impact”.
Reading Coroner’s Court was shown dashcam footage of Mr Walker driving off from the marked police car on the westbound slip road at about 07:00 GMT on 8 December 2016.
PC Harris, the driver of the police car, said Mr Walker “abruptly left the hard shoulder”.
Police pursued the Peugeot 206 on to the M4 before Mr Walker, from Slough, performed a “handbrake turn”, reversed into the police Volvo and drove off in the wrong direction, footage showed.
Assistant coroner Ian Wade QC told the jury: “You will learn Darran was under the influence of drugs at the time when he was behind the wheel of his Peugeot.”
The driver of the Vauxhall Astra, Thomas Butcher, who suffered no serious injuries in the crash, said he thought both vehicles were travelling at about 50 mph before they collided.
He said: “It’s almost like being in a movie or something. I literally put my head down and closed my eyes.”
Mr Butcher said he “dragged” Mr Walker from the burning wreckage but believed he was “killed on impact”.
PC Harris said he and his colleague, PC David Morgan, had been stood down from another emergency when they pulled in behind Mr Walker’s car which thought “might have broken down”.
Mr Wade then asked PC Harris if he thought Mr Walker had “failed to stop”, which the officer replied: “Yes, that is correct.”
The inquest is expected to conclude on Friday.