Misadventure verdict in double fatality

A Coroner’s Jury returned the verdict of death by misadventure after hearing about a 2006 single car accident in which Charles Cody Ebanks, 24, and Menard Myles, 22, lost their lives.

Jurors heard evidence on 28 February in an inquest conducted Queen’s Coroner Margaret Ramsay-Hale.

Neither man was wearing a seat belt. Mr. Ebanks was the driver and Mr. Myles was sitting in the front passenger seat.

The physical cause of death for Mr. Ebanks was severe spinal injury, including two fractures of the spine. Mr. Myles’ cause of death was severe head injury, including a fractured skull.

Laboratory tests showed that Mr. Ebanks’ blood/alcohol level was .214 and Mr. Myles’ was .216. The legal limit for driving in Cayman is .100.

Both men were residents of West Bay. The accident occurred on Conch Point Road, West Bay, around 1.27am on 24 February 2006.

Accident reconstructionist Vincent Walters told the court that he attended the scene of the accident, where he observed a Mazda car, a broken utility pole and an almond tree nine feet away broken down. From this damage and the damage to the Mazda, he estimated its speed at the time of impact to be about 85 mph.

Mr. Walters said the accident occurred at a point after a slight right hand bend in the road. He measured the bend and conducted a test to determine how smooth the road surface was. From this information he calculated that the critical speed of the curve was 60.46 mph. ‘If you go faster, you will lose control,’ he explained.

In an effort to get the car back on course, the driver would have over steered, causing the car to go completely across the road, where it side slipped onto the shoulder. The change of surface caused the lower portion of the car to slow down while the upper portion of the car still had its same forward momentum.

When this happened, the car rolled over and started to travel sideways. Its hood collided with the almond tree while its roof collided with the utility pole.

Mr. Elvis Ewart Ebanks told the court he was riding home on his bicycle around 1.25am. ‘I heard this sound like the sea and breeze coming up the highway something like what [Hurricane] Ivan was bringing when he came across. It kept coming closer.’

Looking back and seeing headlights, he realised it was a car. He got off his bicycle and went behind a dumpster on the side of the road ‘because I knew the car couldn’t make it. It was going too fast and I didn’t want to get hit. Within a couple of seconds the car went past me. Her wheels were not on the ground.’

The Fire Department officers had to use the ‘jaws of life’ device to remove the other man.

Ms Isadora Ferrao told the court she lived in George Town and had known Mr. Ebanks about two and a half years. She knew Mr. Myles from around the time of the hurricane in September 2004.

On 23 February, around 8pm, they came to her home for dinner. She had a friend staying with her who was on vacation. Ms Ferrao said she is a teetotaller, but her friend and the two men were drinking. She could not say how much each person drank, but the three of them together consumed about three-fourths of a bottle of Southern Comfort.

The men left by 12.30 or 12.45am. The two women went out to see them off. Mr. Ebanks jumped in the car first, while Mr. Myles was still talking with the women for a while. Then Mr. Myles got in the passenger side and they left. The four had made plans for the next day.

In summing up the matter for jurors, the coroner pointed out there was no evidence of any other car or any other person. She thought Mr. Elvis Ebanks’ evidence was poetic support of Mr. Walters’ scientific evidence.

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