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Darran Walker inquest: Driver describes 'disbelief' at head on M4 crash

A landscaper from Burnham told an inquest jury of his ‘absolute disbelief’ after a man from Slough driving the wrong way down an M4 slip road crashed into his car head on.

Darran Walker, of Two Mile Drive, Slough, was pronounced dead at the scene after a collision on the westbound slip road at junction 7 of the M4, leading to Slough, on the morning of December 8, 2016.

An inquest at Reading Town Hall today (Tuesday) heard how on the day of the 36-year-old’s death, PC Mark Harris and PC David Morgan were called to reports of people fighting on the hard shoulder near junction 10 of the M4 shortly before 7am.

A video seen by jurors showed how moments after the officers heard they were no longer needed, PC Harris, who was driving the marked Volvo, pulled up behind Mr Walker’s Peugeot 206 which had stopped on the hard shoulder of a slip road by Huntercombe Spur in Slough, leading to the M4 westbound.

Dashcam footage shows the car driving away after the officer’s stop, resulting in a high-speed pursuit down the motorway.

PC Harris told jurors how, not long into the chase, Mr Walker seemingly performed a handbrake turn, swerved leftwards, reversed into the police car and drove the wrong way down the hard-shoulder.

The inquest heard how Mr Walker then drove up the slip road at junction 7 and crashed head on into another car, driven by Thomas Butcher, who was travelling to work.

Mr Butcher, of St Peter’s Close, Burnham told the inquest of his ‘absolute disbelief’ after the crash, which he was conscious throughout.

“It was almost like being in a movie or something, it was surreal,” he said.

“I think, I’m going to be smashed to pieces. That’s the only thought you’re going to have.”

He said he then had a flashback to being six-years-old playing football with his now deceased father before bringing his attention ‘back to real time’.

Recalling his thought process, he said: “This was going to hurt, if not kill me and then I literally put my head down and closed my eyes.”

Mr Butcher said he considers himself ‘extremely lucky’ that he had survived, and said he had no broken bones but was ‘just one massive bruise’.

The inquest heard how Mr Butcher stepped out of his burning Vauxhall Astra and dragged Mr Walker out, fearing there could be an explosion.

The inquest was told how Mr Walker was under the influence of drugs on the day he died but jurors have not heard anything about the type of drug or quantity.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation was held after the crash which concluded there was no case for Thames Valley Police to answer to.

The inquest continues.

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