Royal Navy officer died instantly when he flew off M275 motorway at 150mph

A Royal Navy engineer died after his souped-up car crashed off a motorway at 150mph while attempting to impress a colleague, an inquest has heard.

Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Keith ‘Paddy’ Ross had boasted to his workmate, Harry Malbon, that his car would ‘take the record’ before taking him for a drive from Portsmouth Naval Base on July 15 last year.

The father-of-five, of Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, drove at speeds of up to 150mph on the M275 before he lost control and crashed on to a road below causing him to be flung from the vehicle because he was not wearing a seatbelt.

An inquest at Winchester Coroners Court heard Mr Ross’s red Vauxhall Astra had been illegally modified and was ‘wholly unsuitable’ to be driven on public roads.

In his evidence read to the inquest, Mr Malbon described how he felt like he was on a roller coaster as 40-year-old Mr Ross accelerated on to the motorway.

Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Keith 'Paddy' Ross died after his souped-up car crashed off a motorway at 150mph while attempting to impress a colleague, an inquest has heard

Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Keith 'Paddy' Ross died after his souped-up car crashed off a motorway at 150mph while attempting to impress a colleague, an inquest has heard

Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Keith ‘Paddy’ Ross died after his souped-up car crashed off a motorway at 150mph while attempting to impress a colleague, an inquest has heard

Mr Malbon, also a marine engineer, said: ‘We started having some banter, I was trying to make Paddy fight by saying my car was faster than his, Paddy said ‘I will take that record away from you’ and Paddy suggested we go out in his car.’

He continued: ‘After clearing the speed camera, Paddy floored it, I would describe this moment like being on a roller coaster, I was speechless at the acceleration.

‘I saw an ambulance with its blue lights on and I remember thinking that was for us.’

Mr Malbon said he saw on the car’s speedometer that it was travelling at 150mph before Mr Ross lost control.

He said: ‘Just one or two seconds later the car began fishtailing, Paddy said “Oh f***” and was trying to straighten the car, he was unable to control it.’ 

The father-of-five, of Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, drove at speeds of up to 150mph on the M275 before he lost control and crashed on to a road below causing him to be flung from the vehicle because he was not wearing a seatbelt

The father-of-five, of Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, drove at speeds of up to 150mph on the M275 before he lost control and crashed on to a road below causing him to be flung from the vehicle because he was not wearing a seatbelt

The father-of-five, of Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, drove at speeds of up to 150mph on the M275 before he lost control and crashed on to a road below causing him to be flung from the vehicle because he was not wearing a seatbelt

He described how the car crossed two lanes of the motorway before crashing through the barrier and down on to a road below.

He said that when the car came to a halt on the roundabout below the carriageway he looked across and saw Mr Ross, who had not been wearing a seatbelt, had been flung from the vehicle. 

The inquest heard that Mr Ross died from multiple injuries including a fractured skull.

Coroner Jason Pegg said that Mr Ross had made modifications to the car including removing the catalytic converter which made it ‘unfit for the public road’ and harder to control under heavy acceleration.

Mr Malbon said that when the car came to a halt on the roundabout below the carriageway he looked across and saw Mr Ross, who had not been wearing a seatbelt, had been flung from the vehicle

Mr Malbon said that when the car came to a halt on the roundabout below the carriageway he looked across and saw Mr Ross, who had not been wearing a seatbelt, had been flung from the vehicle

Mr Malbon said that when the car came to a halt on the roundabout below the carriageway he looked across and saw Mr Ross, who had not been wearing a seatbelt, had been flung from the vehicle

Other modifications included installing a de-cat downpipe, normally used for racing cars, as well as lowering the suspension and ‘tweaking’ the engine’s management system.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Mr Pegg added: ‘I find as fact the speed and manner was wholly unsuitable for the road conditions and beyond the capability of the car and also the driving capability of Keith Ross.

‘It seems that it was Keith who modified his vehicle. He was the person who fitted the decat downpipe, altered the suspension, placed the wider tyres on it and introduced the short shifters for greater linkage.

He added: ‘At some point prior to the collision Mr Ross was travelling at speeds up to 150mph.

‘In consequence of that speed Mr Ross lost control of his Vauxhall Astra and sadly he was unable to regain control…’

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Mr Pegg added: 'I find as fact the speed and manner was wholly unsuitable for the road conditions and beyond the capability of the car and also the driving capability of Keith Ross'

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Mr Pegg added: 'I find as fact the speed and manner was wholly unsuitable for the road conditions and beyond the capability of the car and also the driving capability of Keith Ross'

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Mr Pegg added: ‘I find as fact the speed and manner was wholly unsuitable for the road conditions and beyond the capability of the car and also the driving capability of Keith Ross’

Mr Ross’ widow, Sarah, paid tribute to her husband saying: ‘He was cheeky, funny hard-working, insanely intelligent, great fun to be around, the life and soul of everyone, committed, a great man.’

Mr Ross, originally from Co Down, Northern Ireland, joined the Navy in 1998 as a marine engineer and first served aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.

He was awarded the Operational Service Medal for serving in Sierra Leone and he also saw active service in the Arabian Gulf in 2003 and was part of a NATO-led operation in Libya in 2011.

He had most recently served as the deputy marine engineering officer of Crew 7 of the Second Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCM2 Crew 7) based at Portsmouth.

Lieutenant Commander Neil Skinner, commanding officer of MCM2 Crew 7, said: ‘He was a talented engineer operating at the top of his game.’

Mr Ross is survived by his wife Sarah and their five young children Erin, Niamh, Conall, Cian and Órla, aged between 12 and two.

Link hienalouca.com

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