AN amputee died after he ‘careered’ out of control in a modified car which he was driving for the first time, an inquest heard.
Henry Mooney, 69, had been eager to try out his new vehicle in the Homebase car park in Loudwater, but the test drive went “horribly wrong” as he crashed into bollards, kerb stones, a parked car and a barrier, the inquest heard.
The new automatic car had been fitted with a left side accelerator, as the retired BT manager had had part of his lower right leg amputated last year, the Buckinghamshire coroner was told on Wednesday.
This meant using the left foot for both the accelerator and brake, and crash investigators believed Mr Mooney, who had previously driven a manual car for about 50 years, had found himself making “instinctive decisions” after the car jerked forward, the inquest heard.
Wife Maureen, who was standing beside the car, said her husband had not driven a car since his amputation and he was keen to try.
She added: "Whatever happened it careered out of all control...It happened in about three or four seconds. I was trying to shout but he just looked completely vacant.”
Mr Mooney, of Highworth Close, Totteridge, suffered multiple injuries in the accident, which happened on May 10 this year. Though he was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford he died on May 19.
And collision investigator Steve Moffat told the Coroner’s Court in Beaconsfield: “Not only are we getting into a brand new automatic we’ve never driven before, but we are having to use the wrong foot.
“I wonder if his instincts would have been clutch in with the left foot and then trying to find the brake pedal.... It’s the only theory I could come up with. He could have applied the handbrake but in my experience not many of us would have done that.”
There were no mechanical defects found on the car, he added.
Referring to manual cars, coroner Richard Hulett said: “As a matter of instinct when something goes wrong....the first thing you do is left foot on the clutch and right foot on the brake.”
He recorded a verdict of accidental death.