A Lytham dad was ‘highly intoxicated’, wearing black, and walking in the middle of a dark, rural road when he was struck and killed by a car travelling between 40 and 50mph.
Brendan Kiely, 54, was wandering in the middle of Ballam Road, dressed in a black suit, after three days of heavy drinking when he was hit at around 9pm on April 1 – just a few moments after another vehicle swerved to avoid him.
The dad suffered serious injuries and died at the scene.
At his inquest today, police and witnesses told the court that driver Paul Kennedy could not have avoided crashing into Mr Kiely as he drove from Lytham to Blackpool – with one specialist officer calling the tragedy ‘inevitable’.
An investigation found a driver could not have avoided crashing into Mr Kiely on the night of April 1 2021
Mr Kennedy said: “As I passed the oncoming vehicle there was a huge bang and I knew I had hit something because me window was shattered on the left hand side. I slammed on my brakes and the air bags went off. It all happened so fast. I smelled burning.
“As I got out of my car I saw a body in the middle of the road… about 20 yards away.”
Mr Kiely, a property developer, had a history of alcohol abuse and had been seeking help from Inspire, a regional drug and alcohol service, the court heard. He had been prescribed medication for his addiction by his GP, whom he had last seen in February, when he told her he was happy with his progress.
On the night of April 1, he was taken by taxi from Blackburn to Ballam Road, where he lived. He was heavily intoxicated, and began walking in the middle of the unlit carriageway, which has a national speed limit, in the Blackpool direction opposite his house
Mr Kiely, 54, was a property developer who lived in Lytham
One witness, Simon Wallace, who was driving on Ballam Road, said: “I was almost 500 yards from the golf club when a car swerved in front of me and within seconds I saw why. There was a man walking in the middle of the road, dressed smartly in a black suit, tie and white shirt. As I passed him at around 10mph I wound down my window and shouted ‘get off the road, you idiot’. He turned and grinned at us. He seemed drunk.”
Seconds later, Mr Kiely was struck by the Ford car driven by Mr Kennedy at a speed between 40 and 50mph just outside Pembertons Farm Shop.
Police and ambulance services were called to the scene, and Mr Kiely was pronounced dead at 9.50pm.
Mr Kennedy was tested for drugs and alcohol, both of which came back negative. His phone was seized and showed no evidence of being in use at the time of of crash. His car was found to be in working condition, and there were no faults in the road.
CCTV footage of the incident showed Mr Kiely walking in the middle of the road, ‘very unsteady on his feet’ and swaying.
Sergeant Martin Wilcox, the chief investigating officer, said: “The visibility for the driver who collided with Mr Kiely would have been impaired by the lights of the vehicle coming in the opposite direction, and having not expected to see a pedestrian in the middle of the carriageway, the driver would not have seen Mr Kiely… Mr Kiely was wearing a business suit with a black jacket and this would not have helped his visibility on the dark road.”
PC Martin Ward, investigating the crash, added: “The major factor of the collision was the pedestrian walking in the middle of the carriageway in dark clothing, making the collision inevitable. The driver could not have avoided the collision.”
A post mortem carried out on Mr Kiely revealed “very high” levels of alcohol in his system – 405mg, more than eight times the legal driving limit.
Dr Weerasinghe, of Blackpool Victoria Hospital, said: “There were multiple injuries which were compatible with a road traffic collision.
“There were multiple internal injuries. There was a fracture of the skull bones there was also fracturing of the ribs on the left side. There was also fracturing of the pelvic area. There was bleeding within the abdominal cavity.
“Additionally there was complete breakage in the chest area and the brain stem area. These were very significant injuries.”
He added: “If someone is a chronic drinker, the effects of alcohol will be less than in someone who drinks less frequently. In some people, this level of alcohol may cause impaired consciousness and a lack of reflexes. In people not used to drinking, this level of alcohol could even cause coma.”
Handing down a conclusion of death by road traffic collision, coroner Louise Rae said: “Mr Kiely had a history of binge drinking. He had been referred to substance misuse programmes locally and had been prescribed drugs to treat alcohol dependence.
“In February he told his GP he had not had a drink since January 5… Sadly his abstinence does not appear to have continued. He had 405mg perecentage of alcohol in his blood and was highly intoxicated at the time of the collision.
“Mr Kiely would not have been seen in the road given his clothing, a black suit, and his back was towards the vehicle that collided with him.”