TWO friends lost their lives in a tragic accident when their car came off the road and hit a tree, an inquest heard today (Wednesday, December 5).

Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle said factors conspired against Chris Dennington and Joshua Bevan on the afternoon of the accident, Sunday August 5.

He said: “Often we hear of young people in cars doing silly things, this isn’t one of those cases.”

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The inquest at Crook Civic Centre, in County Durham, heard that Mr Dennington, 20, of Darlington, was driving 18-year-old Mr Bevan, from Middleton-in-Teesdale, in his silver Citreon Saxo to Darlington where they planned to socialise and possibly visit the cinema.

As he travelled along the B6279 between Staindrop and Darlington he drove around a sweeping bend in the road near Ingleton and the car left the road.

Chef Andrew Lee had followed the Citreon Saxo for five or ten minutes after leaving work at the Rose and Crown, in Romaldkirk.

He said nothing about the way the car was driven caused him concern and it was only when he saw an exhaust in the middle of the road that he realised something bad had happened.

He said: “Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a car on the side of the road. I stopped and called 999.”

Both men died of multiple injuries at the scene.

PC Andrew Edgar, of Durham police’s collision unit, said it was likely the car was travelling too fast for the bend and drizzly weather conditions, though not above the 60mph speed limit.

It appears to have then hit a drain concealed in the grass verge which caused it to roll and collide with a tree.

PC Edgar said skid tests showed around 50mph was the maximum speed the bend could be negotiated safely.

Mr Dennington, an apprentice mechanic, had kept the car in good condition and though the tread on one tyre was worn it would have had little effect on the vehicle’s handling.

Neither man had been drinking or using mobile phones and both were wearing seatbelts, PC Edgar added.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Tweddle said: “To say it was just an accident seems to be a horrible trivialisation, on the other hand I think it accurately represents exactly what happened.

“It is very likely if the car came off the road a few yards up or down the road we would not be sitting here but all those factors conspired together and we end up with just an accident.”