Welwyn Garden City man dies after crashing car into tree
PUBLISHED: 16:58 24 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:00 24 May 2018
A Welwyn Garden City man who died after crashing his car into a tree had a “significant amount” of MDMA in his system, an inquest has heard.
James Bartell was driving in Heath Road near Woolmer Green with John Lonergan – popstar Alesha Dixon’s brother – on August 27 last year.
Summing up the evidence, senior coroner Geoffrey Sullivan said Mr Bartell’s Ford was seen “out of control, leaning from side to side” at around 4.55pm.
“The report of the witnesses was the driver lost control initially, swerving to the offside, then went across the road and collided with a tree,” he said.
“One of the witnesses said she had to jump out of the road to avoid being struck by the car.”
Witnesses then rushed over to help the pair but Mr Bartell was pronounced dead at the scene.
Subsequent toxicology results confirmed there was a “significant amount” of MDMA – commonly known as ecstasy – in Mr Bartell’s system, and there was also evidence of cocaine use.
Three of the car’s tyres were also found to be overinflated – which can cause the vehicle to become unstable.
Investigating officers estimated it was travelling at between 49mph and 60mph, which despite being below the road’s speed limit, was deemed “inappropriate” for the rural stretch.
Tearful family members watched on as coroner Sullivan said that he believed a mixture of those factors contributed to the crash. He then officially recorded the cause of death as a road traffic collision.
Mr Bartell, who was 29 at the time, lived in Gainswood and was a delivery driver.
Following the inquest, Anna-Marie Kelly, Mr Bartell’s partner since February 2011, told the WHT she was “heartbroken”.
“He was a good person, he had a heart of gold and would have helped anyone,” she added.