A young mother-of-three died after a car driven by her second cousin left the road, hit a tree and burst into flames, an inquest heard.

Kim Latcham, 29, who lived in Darlington, had been out celebrating her best friend Nicola Heslop’s birthday, but called Brogan Latcham to ask for a lift home the following morning.

The Northern Echo: Kim LatchamKim Latcham (Image: Contributor)

Crook Coroners’ Court heard the 25-year-old had been drinking beer and taking cocaine shortly before the crash on Whitworth Lane in Spennymoor at around 7am on Saturday, July 29.

The court was told Brogan and Kim died instantly when the black Jeep Cherokee left the road after overtaking a tractor and hit a tree causing the car to split into two parts.

Ms Heslop became trapped in her seat with severe leg injuries and was rescued by the tractor driver who cut her seatbelt with a penknife before an off-duty policeman dragged her to safety.

Assistant Coroner Leslie Hamilton, who referred to evidence submitted at Brogan’s inquest last month, said: “They would have died instantly, it is fair to say.

“A fire broke out in the engine compartment but looking at the injuries they had they would have died instantly, not as a result of the fire.”

Post-mortem examinations carried out by pathologist Dr Paul Barrett found both Brogan and Kim died from multiple traumatic injuries.

Toxicology test results revealed Brogan had 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’, the inquest heard.

The Northern Echo: Brogan LatchamBrogan Latcham (Image: Contributor)

Forensic collision investigator Carl Wood, from Durham Constabulary, found the tyres of the car were underinflated and the hearing was told this could have affected the steering of the vehicle, which did not have a valid MOT certificate.

The investigator carried out a reconstruction of the incident with a similar vehicle and concluded a safe speed for the stretch of road was 55mph.

He estimated the car was travelling at 72mph when the driver lost control.

Mr Hamilton concluded Kim died as a result of a road traffic collision.

He said: “The car she was travelling in left the road and collided with a tree.

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“She died at the scene. The vehicle did not have a valid MOT and the tyres were underinflated which may have impacted on the steering.

“The driver was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine.

“It is an awful situation. A young mother of three children has died.”

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