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Driver left Dylan Crossey dying in the road to make it to his social engagement

Posted on - 19th January, 2024 - 1:36pm | Author - | Posted in - Crime, Longton & New Longton, Penwortham, Preston News, Roads, South Ribble News, Transport
Dylan Crossey died while out on his bike Pic: Tracey Milligan
Dylan Crossey died while out on his bike Pic: Tracey Milligan

A ‘despicable’ driver who left a schoolboy dying in the road was over the drink drive limit and typing into his satnav when he fatally struck the teenager, a coroner has ruled.

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Dylan Crossey was cycling along Wham Lane in Whitestake on October 7, 2016 when he was run over by David Harwood as the BMW driver travelled to meet a woman he had met online.

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An inquest at County Hall in Preston today (January 19) concluded that although Dylan, who attended All Hallows Catholic High School in Penwortham, was wearing dark clothing and cycling without lights, Mr Harwood should have been able to see him in plenty of time to avoid hitting him.

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However, Mr Harwood claimed not to have ever seen Dylan or his friend Charles Hodson who was cycling with him and not to have known that he had hit someone when he heard a loud bang. This explanation was described as ‘deeply concerning’ by a crash investigation expert who carried out a reconstruction of the collision.

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After hitting the teenager, who dreamed of becoming a professional footballer, Mr Harwood did not stop and instead continued to the home of Angela Parker in Buckshaw Village. He spent around 25 minutes there, with Ms Parker describing him as behaving ‘erratically’ and regularly checking the window, before returning home.

To complete this journey, he did not enter his own address but instead a postcode he had previously used and navigated his own way from there. Dr James Adeley, area coroner, dismissed the driver’s explanation for this as “without credibility”. Instead, he said it was likely done as the direct route would have taken him past the crash site, where his damaged car would have caught the attention of the police.

The crash occurred at around 11pm and earlier that night, Mr Harwood had drunk two pints of Carling at the Farmer’s Arms. He told police that he then went home and had a glass of wine with a takeaway but also told Ms Parker in an online chat that he’d had another beer and a second glass of wine at home before coming to meet her. Dr Adeley concluded that his actions in waiting until the following morning before handing himself into the police were done so that he would no longer be over the drink drive limit.

Dr Adeley also dismissed his explanation for not assessing the damage to the car, despite having a hole in the windscreen. The coroner noted that given his professional role as a vehicle damage assessor, it was clear to him the damage could only have been sustained by hitting someone and that he did not inspect the car as he did not want this knowledge confirmed.

Continuing to visit Ms Parker despite knowing he had hit someone was described as “utterly reprehensible” by the coroner but was not an act which fell under his powers as it occurred after the death.

Mr Harwood had previously been charged in relation to Dylan’s death and acquitted at a criminal court. Dr Adeley noted that the coroner’s court operates with a lower burden of proof but stopped short of delivering a conclusion of unlawful killing, arguing the high threshold needed had not been met.

He said: “Although David Harwood’s failure to stop after hitting Dylan is despicable and his continuing to his social engagement whilst he was probably aware that he has left someone dead or dying in the roadway behind is selfish beyond comprehension, these actions did not contribute to or cause Dylan’s death, which was entirely due to the BMW David Harwood was driving striking Dylan from behind.”

Instead, he delivered a narrative conclusion and took the unusual step of including Mr Harwood’s name. He said: “At approximately 11 PM on Friday, 7 October 2016, Dylan James Crossey was cycling a silver Dawes bicycle on Wham Lane, Whitestake, Lancashire. Dylan was cycling in an appropriate section of the road, although without lights and in dark clothing. Dylan sustained fatal head injuries when a BMW car driven by David Harwood, collided with Dylan Crossey’s bicycle from behind.

“This collision caused Dylan’s head to strike the windscreen before he passed over the roof of the car and into the roadway. David Harwood did not see Dylan prior to the collision as he was entering a postcode into the BMW’s satellite navigation system.

“David Harwood made no attempt to either brake or swerve to avoid the collision. David Harwood was aware at the time or very shortly after the collision that he had hit a person.

“David Harwood had consumed alcohol that evening before driving to an extent that he should not have been driving. Dylan’s emergency treatment was delayed only by a matter of minutes when other motorists requested emergency assistance, David Harwood having not stopped after the collision to help. Dylan later died of his head injuries at Manchester Royal Infirmary on 8 October 2016.”

Speaking after the hearing, Dylan’s mother Tracey Milligan said the fight for justice would go on. Sefton Kwasnik, who represented the family, said the family still had concerns over how evidence had been handled during the police investigation and that many questions remain unanswered. He added: “Tracey still hopes that someone in the community holds information that can take this further.”

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