Soldier from Carrickfergus driving at 83mph before fatal collision
A soldier from Northern Ireland was driving his car at 83mph on a 40mph road when it left the road and collided with a tree, killing both himself and a female friend, an inquest has heard.
Trooper Mark McKeen (23), from Carrickfergus, died on February 1 at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.
His colleague in the Royal Dragoon Guards, Private Codie Richardson (20), of Stockton-on-Tees, also died in the crash. The inquest in North Yorkshire heard that the two soldiers had only known each other for a few weeks.
Coroner Rob Turnbull was told that just before 8pm the pair had decided to call on a mutual friend with a view to having a night out.
Trooper McKeen took his Seat Ibiza but had to sign out of the garrison. Queens Royal Lancer Jason Broadrick, who was on gate duty, said Mr McKeen was "driving as fast as he possibly could". Asked about the manner of Mr McKeen's driving, Mr Broadrick said it was "ridiculous".
At about 8.10pm Catterick resident Tony Cook was in his home when he heard a "massive, massive bang" on the road.
He ran out, but by the time he arrived, Police Sergeant Kevin Graham was already at the scene.
The car was in two parts, about 30ft off the road and both Mr McKeen and Ms Richardson had been thrown out of the car. The seatbelts they had both been wearing had snapped. Sgt Graham administered CPR to both, but eventually concentrated on Pte Richardson when there was no response from Mark McKeen.
Mr McKeen was pronounced dead at the scene at about 8.45pm and Ms Richardson at the nearby Darlington Memorial Hospital at 9.55pm where her body was identified by her mother, Carole Muir.
Coroner Rob Turnbull said: "The speed of the Seat was 83mph although there was a 40mph limit. That tells its own story."
Explaining that it wasn't the job of the inquest to apportion blame, he recorded that both had "died of a result of injuries sustained in a road traffic collision," adding: "This was a tragic loss of two young lives."