Thick ice on Emsworth A27 caused crash death

A FREAK ice storm that created lethal driving conditions led to the death of a driver, an inquest heard.

Aaron Frost, a 25-year-old kitchen fitter, was travelling home from work along the A27 at Emsworth on January 13 this year when he was caught in a hail storm that turned the road into a sheet of ice.

An inquest at Portsmouth Guildhall on Friday heard Aaron lost control of his BMW saloon and crashed into a concrete barrier at the side of the road.

The car then hit a lamppost and overturned before coming to rest on its side in a ditch, close to the onslip at Emsworth, just before the Shell garage.

The inquest heard Aaron was travelling back home to Bognor Regis, having worked in the Petersfield area.

He was chatting on a hands-free mobile phone with his best friend, Jake Gladwin.

In a statement, Jake said he suddenly heard Aaron swear.

He said: “I heard a crash sound. I tried calling for five minutes, but did not get a response.”

Wayne Angus, a lorry driver, said the weather changed very quickly that evening, about 7.50pm.

“The hail was not coming down, it was coming sideways,” he said.

“That’s when everything started to go crazy.”

Several cars and a van on both sides of the road started to skid and spin.

Mr Angus stopped his lorry and spotted the stricken BMW down an embankment.

“The ice on the floor was thick,” he said.

“I nearly fell over. Everyone was skidding.”

Paramedics took Aaron to St Richard’s Hospital, in Chichester, but he was pronounced dead at 9.45pm. He died from multiple injuries.

Collision investigator PC Stephen Wooton said there were no car defects and no evidence of speeding.

He said Aaron talking while driving could have reduced reaction time, but he could not be sure.

He said it was a ‘catastrophic impact’.

Coroner David Horsley, recorded a verdict of accidental death, saying Aaron was ‘blameless’ in what happened.

He said: “What happened to Aaron happened in a split second.

“From driving on a perfectly safe road, in a split second, they were all in an extremely dangerous position where we had this flash ice storm.”

After the inquest, Aaron’s aunt Glenna Frost, from Bognor Regis, said: “He was a lovely lad and his family really miss him.

“It’s such a tragic accident. It was just the wrong place at the wrong time.”