Ex U's star killed after lying in road

A POPULAR former Colchester United player was run over and killed after lying in the road after an all-day drinking session, an inquest heard yesterday.

James Hore

A POPULAR former Colchester United player was run over and killed after lying in the road after an all-day drinking session, an inquest heard yesterday.

Ross Crouch, 23, had been away with team mates from Brantham Athletic on a “glorified drinking trip” trip to Bratislava in Slovakia and the socialising continued on the Sunday when they returned.

Chelmsford Coroner's Court heard yesterday that the trainee brick-layer spent the day drinking beer but decided to head home from the football club because he needed to be up early for work.

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However, as he made his way home up Cox's Hill, Lawford, he fell into the road and was run over by an Audi A3 which was unable to avoid him.

The Audi's driver, Daniel Hinkins, told the inquest he thought he saw “something that looked like a bin-liner” in the road at about 12.30am on May 19, 2008.

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The 36-year-old said: “I was completely sober, I was dead centre of my lane and I saw something. I did not know what it was, I could not avoid it and I would do anything to change that.”

He immediately stopped and called 999 and stood with Ross and tried to comfort him.

Ross was rushed to Colchester General Hospital but later died after suffering multiple injuries.

Accident investigator, Pc Duncan Thurwell , said toxicology results showed Ross had 209microgrammes of alcohol in his blood, roughly two-and-a-half times the legal drink-drive limit.

He said: “There was insufficient time for even an extremely alert driver to see the object in the carriageway and take action.

“Unfortunately, it is not unusual for young people who are intoxicated to lie in the carriageway and I can't offer you any explanation for that behaviour.”

He said the combination of factors had contributed to the “tragic accident” and added there was “no realistic opportunity” for Mr Hinkins to avoid Ross.

Experts, including the pathologist who carried out the post mortem, concluded he was already lying down when he was struck.

Friend Lewis Symes said, in a statement read at the inquest, Ross was “steady on his feet” as the pair made their way home, jogging and walking to keep warm.

He described Ross as a “happy drunk” but added “he did not give me the impression that he was unsteady on his feet”.

Shortly after the pair went their separate ways Ross, who was wearing Hawaiian-style beach shorts and a back pack, was seen staggering up Cox's Hill by motorist Emma Burrell.

She said, in a statement, that she saw him “staggering from side to side” in the way a comedy drunkard would on television.

“He was in a complete daze and did not appear to know where he was going,” she said.

As she headed down the road Miss Burrell saw Ross fall to the ground.

She said she thought about stopping to help but was concerned about what an unknown drunken person might have in the backpack or what might have happened to her.

Moments later Mr Hinkins car collided with Ross.

Deputy Assistant Coroner for Essex, Eleanor Mcgann, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

She said: “There is only one verdict I can come to and that this was a tragic accident.”

After his death, family and friends described Ross as “incredibly well-liked”.

Graham Mower, of Brantham Athletic, said: “He was a very quiet, strong man. You could put your life in his hands. He was absolutely first class.

“He was an absolute credit to himself, his family and his football club. He was a first class player. The best mate anybody could have.”

After leaving school Ross had signed a contract with Colchester United Youth Team before later being offered a professional contract with the club.

Although he was released by the Us, Ross still loved football and played for Stanway Rovers on Saturdays and Brantham Athletic on Sundays.

His parents Sharon and Nigel, a former professional footballer with both Ipswich Town and Colchester United, said: “Ross was a real family man and a friend to all.”


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