A rear seat passenger who survived a horrific crash that claimed the lives of two cousins has described the terrifying moments before the car left the road, hit a tree and burst into flames.

Brogan and Kim Latcham were killed instantly when the black Jeep Cherokee left a rural County Durham road after overtaking a tractor.

Nicola Heslop, who became trapped in her seat with severe leg injuries, was rescued when a farm worker cut her seatbelt with a penknife and an off-duty policeman dragged her to safety.

An inquest at Crook Coroners’ Court heard how 25-year-old Brogan, from Ferryhill, had been speeding and listening to loud music, was three times the drink-drive limit and had taken cocaine.

The Northern Echo: Brogan LatchamBrogan Latcham (Image: Contributor)In evidence read to the court Ms Heslop, from Willington, said the crash on Whitworth Lane in Spennymoor happened at around 7am on Saturday, July 29.

She had been out for her birthday with her best friend, Kim Latcham, a mother-of-three, who lived in Darlington, and Brogan said he would take them home.

She said: “He was driving so fast it was as if he was showing off.

“The music was on really loud and he was singing out loud to songs with Kimberley.

“I felt uncomfortable. I started to grip my seatbelt and my handbag as I was worried Brogan was driving so fast.”

Ms Heslop said Mr Latcham overtook cars and a cyclist so closely she thought they would hit the bike and asked him to ‘slow down’ on more than one occasion but was ignored.

She said: “I was asking him to stop the car to let me out. At the time I just had my eyes closed.

“The last thing I remember was overtaking a tractor at speed.

“I closed my eyes and heard a huge ‘bang’ and felt a crash.”

The impact was so severe the inquest was told Ms Heslop could no longer see the front of the Jeep as it was ‘wrapped around the tree’.

She said: “It was so scary. My legs were in a horrendous amount of pain.

I could smell smoke and could tell something was on fire.

“I was frightened of the fire and I needed to get away but couldn’t move because my legs were badly broken.”

The Northern Echo: Kim LatchamKim Latcham (Image: Contributor)The inquest heard farm worker Adam Close was driving a large tractor to Brancepeth to spray potatoes when it was overtaken by the Jeep, which lost control after hitting the nearside grass verge.

In his evidence, Mr Close said: “It went through the fence and collided side-on with a tree and came to an instant standstill.

“I instantly froze with shock at what I had just seen.

“The car appeared to be wrapped around the tree. I could hear a female voice screaming for help.”

Mr Close called emergency services and freed Ms Heslop before moving his tractor as it was full of flammable chemicals and the car was on fire.

In her evidence Mr Latcham’s mother, Victoria, said he had been working late the night before and had come home at around 11pm, relaxing with a pizza and ‘a few cans’.  

She said she advised him not go out when Kim called the following morning but Mr Latcham, who bought the car the weekend before, told her he had promised to take her home.

She said: “I got the devastating news later in the morning about the collision.”

Toxicology test results revealed Mr Latcham has 244mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood, the legal limit is 80mg, and traces of cocaine which would have been taken ‘not long before his death’.

Forensic collision investigator Carl Wood, from Durham Constabulary, found the tyres of the car were underinflated and told the inquest this could have also contributed to Mr Latcham losing control of the vehicle.

A post-mortem examination carried out by pathologist Dr Paul Barrett concluded Mr Latcham has died from multiple traumatic injuries.

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The coroner recorded a narrative verdict into Mr Latcham’s death that read: “There was a road traffic collision contributed to by the effects of cocaine and alcohol.”

A separate inquest will be held into the death of Ms Latcham.

Assistant Coroner Leslie Hamilton said: “The evidence is both he and Kimberley were killed instantly at the time of the collision.”