Azriel Jerome Grant turned 17 on 28 February 2004. Three months later he had a car and a full driver’s licence. Two months after that, he died of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.
The accident occurred around 3am on 10 July 2004. A Coroner’s Jury heard details on 26 April 2007 and returned a verdict of death by misadventure.
Dr. Garfield Blake, who performed the autopsy, said the physical cause of death was the multiple injuries to Grant’s head, lung, liver and a fractured leg.
Tests of the young man’s blood and urine showed no sign of alcohol or drugs.
At the inquest, conducted by Queen’s Coroner Margaret Ramsay-Hale, occupants of three different vehicles said they were travelling towards George Town and Grant’s car was coming towards them, partly on their side of the road.
The drivers of the first two cars were able to swerve out of the way. The driver of the third vehicle, a van, was not able to get out of the way.
The van was hit on the right side of its front end. Both cars spun around, with the van ending up in the other lane and the Toyota coming to rest on the shoulder of the other lane.
A drawing of the accident site by Mr. Colin Redden showed that the point of impact was in Grant’s incorrect lane.
During inspection of Grant’s vehicle, a 1994 Toyota Starlet GT Turbo, Mr. Redden could tell from the filaments of the brake lights that the brakes were not being applied at the time of the collision. The car was a five-speed stick shift; it was found in fourth gear.
Accident reconstructionist Vincent Walters said the road surface was in good condition. There were no skid marks. Mr. Walters concluded that the accident occurred because of inattention on Grant’s part: witnesses had observed him on the wrong side of the road and there were no tyre marks to indicate that he took any evasive action.
The man who sold the Toyota to Grant said it was in good condition, but needed its pistons changed. He said Grant told him he was getting that work done.
The Toyota had an electronic boost control, but before selling it, the man reduced the power level and locked the boost control. No one could unlock it because he had the password.
With the reduced power level, the car was like any regular street car. It would take twice as long to go from 0-60 miles per hour after the power level was reduced.
The previous owner said he believed the car’s top speed was 120 mph. But as the pistons were new, Grant would have been recommended to drive at no more than 40mph until the pistons were broken in; otherwise, the engine would be destroyed.
Mr. Redden and Mr. Walters were unable to say how fast either driver would have been travelling at the time of the accident. But they agreed that the combined speeds of the two vehicles would have been around 100 miles per hour. The speed limit in that area was 40 mph.
Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees assisted by marshalling the evidence for the court. Attorney Sheridan Brooks asked questions on behalf of Grant’s family.