Tragic death of Portishead teen

A POPULAR Portishead teenager died when he was struck by a car as he stood in the middle of a road.

Gaz Hedges suffered fatal injuries during the collision in Nore Road on August 5 last year.

At an inquest into his death, held at Flax Bourton Coroner’s Court on Thursday, it was heard how the 19-year-old of Hollis Avenue, North Weston, had been out drinking with friends before the tragic incident occurred at 1.15am.

The driver of the Skoda Fabia involved, Thomas Combstock, had been driving along Nore Road when he spotted a group of pedestrians, including his friend Richard Chapman, so turned around to offer them a lift.

Driving back down the hill he suddenly spotted an object in front of his car before his windscreen smashed. He stopped, got out and realised his car had hit a person.

The inquest heard how Gaz, who was wearing dark clothes at the time, had stepped into the road, put his arms in the air and said ‘I’ll teach him to drive so fast’.

Despite friends telling the former Gordano School pupil to get out of the road, he was unable to move quick enough before Mr Combstock’s approaching car struck him.

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Gaz sustained fractures to both legs, a fractured lower vertebra as well as a 14cm skull fracture. He was taken to Frenchay Hospital but died from his injuries.

During the hearing, Mr Combstock said his car was travelling at between 30 and 35mph at the time of the crash.

Collision investigator Sergeant Leona Naish said the car would have been travelling between 32 and 42mph when it collided with Gaz. She also told the court the collision would still have occurred at 30mph.

Assistant deputy coroner Terence Moore, who recorded a verdict of death through misadventure, said: “Mr Combstock took the fatal decision to return and speak to those people he knew.

“Gareth walks into the lane in which Mr Combstock is travelling along.

“At this point I am sure he could see Mr Combstock’s headlights but I am also sure that Mr Combstock could not see him.”

About 20 of Gaz’s family members and friends attended Thursday’s inquest, all wearing wrist bands in memory of the teenager.

His mum Rachael said: “We are pleased with the verdict as we don’t see it as accidental.

“The next step for us is that we try to get speed bumps put on that road.

“The road is notorious for speed. Nobody travels down that road at 30mph unless they have the foot on the brake.

“We want to stop this happening again.

“We miss Gaz. We have lost something really major in our family.”