'Nothing could be done' to prevent death of Northampton man who was hit by police car while lying in road, inquest hears

"Hardworking, popular" William was last seen on a night out where he seemed in "good spirits" and appeared "drunker than ever before".

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 9:26 am
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 4:19 pm
William Smith was killed on the A43 Lumbertubs Way when he was hit by a police car while lying in the road. He was 32. Picture used with permission of family.

"Nothing could be done" to prevent the death of a "lively, popular" man who was hit by a police car on blue lights on a Northampton dual carriageway.

William Smith was struck and killed on the A43 Lumbertubs Way in September 2018 by a police car that was on its way to a 999 emergency.

At the 32-year-old's inquest yesterday (February 5), a jury heard how Mr Smith had been on a night out in the hours leading up to his death, with a close friend saying he seemed "drunker than I'd ever seen him".

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Will was described as a "loud and popular" person who was looking forward to planning his future.

He was last seen at around 3am walking away on a street in Lumbertubs on his way home where he seemed "in good spirits".

But at around 4am on September 9, a police cruiser on its way to an emergency incident was travelling southbound on Lumbertubs Way at over 70mph when the driver saw Mr Smith lying across the carriageway close to the junction with Paxton Road.

Although the officer carried out an emergency stop, the car struck Mr Smith, who likely lost consciousness instantly.

The driver, PC 1153 John Fawcett of Northamptonshire Police, told the inquest: "I saw what appeared to be a blue object in the road but I quickly realised it was a person.

"I didn't have time to stop before striking him... I want to offer my condolences to his family."

The inquest also heard how the patch of road where Mr Smith was lying was darkened, and an investigation estimated that PC Fawcett would have had less than two seconds to react to the sight of My Smith in the road.

One of Mr Smith's sisters also told the officer: "When it first happened I did feel hatred. But now I know it was an accident and no one could have done anything."

Police officers performed CPR at the scene and an ambulance was dispatched, but Mr Smith died at the scene.

A jury of nine women and two men returned a verdict of accidental death, and ruled it was likely he fell over.

In a statement read out by the coroner, William's mum Ellen said: "Will was loud and loved to be the centre of attention. He was a good person who worked hard and was very sociable.

"He had just come back from a holiday in Benidorm and seemed excited to plan his future with his girlfriend. He was due a promotion to team leader at his work and seem excited about moving forward."

The inquest also heard from a woman who, in 2017, came across Mr Smith lying on the exact same stretch of road while drunk, at which time he was taken to hospital where it was discovered he needed immediate surgery.

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) also ruled there was nothing PC Fawcett could have done to avoid the collision and he was travelling at acceptable speeds.