THE cause of a crash which killed four people may never be known, a coroner has said.
Driver Lewis Mackley, 18, and passengers Tommy Marsh, 17, Tommy Elmes, 16, and Danny Philbrow, 43, died after the silver Vauxhall Vectra they were travelling in left the road, hit a tree on the opposite side of the carriageway and split in two.
When PC Richard Pett arrived at the crash scene, in Porthcawl, South Wales, the car was in two separate pieces, up to 82ft apart, an inquest heard.
Tests later revealed Mr Mackley had been over the legal alcohol limit.
Peter Maddox, coroner for Bridgend and the Glamorgan Valleys recorded verdicts of accidental death into the deaths of dad-of-four Mr Philbrow, and Mr Elmes, from Paulsgrove, Mr Marsh, from Port Solent, and Mr Mackley, from Drayton.
Mr Maddox said: ‘We’ll never really know what happened.’
Louis Stock, who was also a passenger in the car, was the sole survivor of the crash.
He was taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea for treatment following the accident, which happened just before midnight on April 15 last year.
He was discharged eight days later.
The inquest heard the group had gone to South Wales to trade gold and jewellery last April and had been staying in a caravan at Trecco Bay Holiday Park in Porthcawl while they were working there.
On the day of the crash, the group decided to finish work early as they had had a successful day.
They finished work between about 2.30pm and 3pm and drove back to Porthcawl.
They then stopped along the seafront and went to a pub where they each had a pint before splitting up.
In a statement read at the inquest at Aberdare Coroner’s Court in Wales, Mr Stock said: ‘We asked Danny and Lewis to pick us up.
‘I’m sure I got into the back of the car in the middle, Danny was in the front passenger seat and Lewis was in the driver’s seat.’
He added: ‘I can’t remember driving down the road and the next thing I do remember is waking up in hospital.’
PC Michael Cooper, an accident investigator for South Wales Police, who went to the scene after the crash, told the inquest that there were several possibilities to the cause of the crash.
He said that excess speed, an animal running out into the road or the driver being distracted and misjudging the bend as he approached it could have been factors.
However PC Cooper said it was ‘more than likely’ that the car was being driven faster than the 50mph speed limit.