The inquest of a stockcar racer who died following a crash at Mildenhall Stadium in 2012 was officially reopened today.
Steven Newman, 36, from Spalding in Lincolnshire, was competing in the British Stockcar Championship Final on June 6 when he was involved in a multi-car collision in the race’s sixth lap, at around 10.35pm.
Despite medical treatment by paramedics to try and revive him, Mr Newman was pronounced dead at the scene.
Various parties including drivers, spectators, paramedics and other medical staff will give evidence at the three-day inquest at the Farmer’s Club, in Bury St Edmunds.
George Bolt Jr, 19, was one of around 30 other drivers taking part in the race. He was in the car behind Mr Newman when the accident happened.
He said he drove around a corner on the track to see Mr Newman’s car in mid-air. Depsite trying to stop his vehicle, he ended up hitting Mr Newman’s car and started the ‘bundle’ of cars which were consequently involved in the accident.
His father George Bolt Sr was watching from the sidelines by the pit corner, close to where the accident took place.
Seasoned stockcar racer Mr Bolt Sr said he had seen drivers walk away from crashes ‘20 times worse’ than that in which Mr Newman was killed.
“I have been in crashes myself, it is luck of the draw how it happens,” he said.
Mr Bolt Sr told the inquest that accidents were not uncommon in stockcar racing, but the corner on which Mr Newman crashed was not especially prone to accidents.
Fellow racer Lee Sampson said he rolled his car twice that night on the same corner on which Mr Newman’s car was flipped.
“The angle of the bend tightens as you come around the the corner, bringing you closer to the fence,” he said.
Paramedic Benjamin Hazelwood of the East of England Ambulance Service was one of the medical staff on scene after the accident. He told the inquest he and his crew member were called at 10.44pm to reports of a road traffic accident with one casualty.
However, the inquest heard that the first 999 call was made to the ambulance service at 10.39pm by an emergency medical technician at the stadium. This initial call and two others at 10.42pm and 10.43pm stated a patient was in respiratory arrest and that it had happened while ‘banger racing’.
In the call made at 10.44pm, however, the inquest heard this information was not passed on and Mr Hazelwood had not been told that the accident had happened inside the stadium.
By the time Mr Hazelwood and his colleague arrived at 11.04pm, the car had been rolled onto its side and medics had managed to move Mr Newman out of the car. He had been moved on a spinal board to the back of a private ambulance in attendance and resuscitation attempts were continuing.
There was a delay in getting Mr Newman out of the car as the roof of the modified vehicle, fitted throughout with reinforcing steel rods, had buckled upon impact and had made it impossible for medics to remove his helmet.
His seat had also buckled and thrown him forward against the dashboard, making it difficult to reach his chest.
His five-point safety harness, attached to the car’s chassis and not the seat, had to be cut off and the car was slowly turned back over by a team of 10 people, distributed around the vehicle to ensure Mr Newman moved as little as possible.
The inquest heard that soon after the accident an emergency medical technician found a very weak pulse in Mr Newman’s left wrist, but no pulse was felt after the car was turned back onto its wheels.
A volunteer doctor from the Suffolk Accident Rescue Service was called at 11.07pm and arrived on the scene at 11.30pm. Following an examination of Mr Newman, who had shown no response to resuscitation attempts, life was pronounced extinct at 11.35pm.
The inquest continues.