A SOLDIER who died in a car crash earlier this year was being driven at more than 80mph in a 40mph zone, an inquest heard today (July 1).

Stockton soldier Codie Richardson, who was 20, died in the crash near Catterick Garrison on Saturday, February 1 - alongside her friend and colleague Mark McKeen, 23, from Northern Ireland.

Trooper McKeen was driving the Seat Ibiza at 83mph in a 40mph zone at the time of the crash on Leyburn Road, near Catterick Golf Club, the Northallerton inquest was told.

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Coroner Rob Turnbull heard that the two soldiers had only known each other for a few weeks and were just friends.

Shortly before 8pm, the pair decided to call on another mutual friend with a view to having a night out.

Trooper McKeen took his black Seat Ibiza and was seen by Queens Royal Lancer, Jason Broadrick, “driving as fast as he possibly could”.

At about 8.10pm Tony Cook from Catterick was at home when he heard a “massive, massive bang” on the nearby road and called 999.

Police Sergeant Kevin Graham was first at the scene and described how the car had been torn into two parts, about 30ft off the road.

Both Trooper McKeen and Pte Richardson had been thrown clear after the seatbelts they were both wearing had snapped.

Sgt Graham administered CPR to both but eventually concentrated on Pte Richardson. Trooper McKeen was pronounced dead at the scene at about 8.45pm and Pte Richardson at Darlington Memorial Hospital at 9.55pm.

Traffic Constable Paul Davenport, who investigated the accident, said the car had being negotiating a bend when Trooper McKeen lost control and the car left the road. The car turned, skidding anti-clockwise, and first hit a small tree then a much bigger second tree on the driver’s side.

Constable Davenport said skid marks and other factors showed the car left the road at no less than 83mph and hit the trees at 70mph. Both rear tyres were below the legal tread limit.

Coroner Turnbull, noted a toxicology report showed both Codie Richardson and Mark McKeen had no drink or drugs in their system.

He said: “The speed of the Seat was 83mph although there was a 40mph limit. That tells its own story.”

He recorded a factual verdict that both had “died of a result of injuries sustained in a road traffic collision.”

Pte Richardson’s family did not wish to speak after the inquest, although her stepfather, Gary Muir, explained tomorrow (Wednesday, July 2) would have been her 21st birthday and said: “We just want to say: Rest in Peace, Codie.”