Teenager who died in crash was three times over drink-drive limit

Former Portsmouth Grammar School student James Langrish
Former Portsmouth Grammar School student James Langrish
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A MUCH-LOVED teenager who died in a car crash was more than three times over the drink drive limit, an inquest heard.

James Langrish, 19, a former student at Portsmouth Grammar School, was described as a loving, caring and happy boy by his mother Joanne Langrish, who spoke at Portsmouth Guildhall yesterday.

The coroner’s court heard that James died when his Vauxhhall Corsa hit a HGV at 3am on August 22 last year on the A32 near Wickham.

Blood tests taken after showed James, a kitchen porter, had been 3.1 times the legal alcohol limit, something James’ parents and friends said was totally out of character for him.

Mrs Langrish said: ‘He really was my rock. He was a boy I could depend on.’

James’ father David Langrish, from Knowle, said: ‘It was totally shocking to me.

‘We did quite a lot together so I am at a loss to why he took that decision.’

James, from Droxford, had been out with friends the night before and had been drinking at a friend’s house in Old Portsmouth, then at nearby El Nico’s restaurant and Tiger Tiger nightclub at Gunwharf Quays.

After becoming separated from friends in the nightclub, James drove home.

Robert Chen, whose house James was meant to stay at, said he was surprised to get home and see James’ car was not there.

James had been travelling at around 75mph on the 50mph limit road when he swerved over his lane and into the path of a lorry.

The driver of the lorry, Geoffrey Steele, 52, from Southampton, broke his wrist as he tried desperately to avoid hitting the car. His cab was crushed and he suffered chest injuries.

Deputy coroner for South East Hampshire, Robert Stone, ruled James’ death as an accident.

He said: ‘For whatever reason James decided to drive home and that led to this accident.

‘He was normally a very responsible and well-behaved boy.

Mum speaks of her heartbreak at son’s death

FAMILY and friends spoke about their heartbreak at the death of popular James Langrish.

The 19-year-old was on a gap year and was intending to go to university to study psychology this September. He had been working as a kitchen porter in Greens restaurant and bar, in Wickham.

His mother Joanne Langrish told an inquest about the caring and thoughtful nature of her son.

Mrs Langrish said: ‘James was a delightful, funny, thoughtful son, brother, nephew and grandson who touched the lives of so many with his caring personality. He was normally responsible and conscientious young man, achieving so much in his short life.

‘The circumstances leading up to his untimely death will never be fully understood. Something went terribly wrong for him.

‘We do know it was never his intention to drive home that fateful night and whatever led him to make the decision must have been, to him, unavoidable. Circumstances conspired against him and took the life of such a special person with a promising future ahead of him.

‘We are totally devastated and our lives will never be the same again.’