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Boy, 8, died in crash when drug-driver dad 'aquaplaned' on flooded motorway

Blake Consterdine-Clarke was killed after his drug-driving dad's BMW 'aquaplaned' on a 'flooded' stretch of the M60. (Cavendish)
Blake Consterdine-Clarke was killed after his drug-driving dad's BMW 'aquaplaned' on a 'flooded' stretch of the M60. (Cavendish)

A boy was killed in a horror car crash after his drug-driving dad's BMW "aquaplaned" on a "flooded" stretch of the M60, an inquest heard.

Blake Consterdine-Clarke died in hospital after suffering serious injuries in the crash near Audenshaw, Greater Manchester, on 28 February, 2020.

His father Leon Clarke, who was 13 times over the drug-driving limit, had taken cocaine the night before his unroadworthy BMW 3 Series smashed into a lorry near junction 23.

Uninsured Clarke, 40, had picked his two young sons up from their grandparents' home in Middleton at around 1:40pm on the day of the tragedy.

After veering off the motorway, the BMW ploughed into a highways maintenance lorry parked on the hard shoulder that had been called out to assess damage caused during an incident in which another vehicle aquaplaned earlier that day.

Firefighters and paramedics performed CPR on Blake, from Milnrow, before he was taken to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

Despite the best efforts of medics, he was pronounced dead that same afternoon. Blake's brother was also taken to hospital along with a highways worker, who was in the lorry at the time of the crash.

Last October, Clarke, of Red Lane, Rochdale, was jailed for four years after he pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving whilst over the drug-driving limit and causing death by driving while uninsured.

Leon Clarke was 13 times over the drug-driving limit when he crashed. (Cavendish)
Leon Clarke was 13 times over the drug-driving limit when he crashed. (Cavendish)

An inquest at Manchester South Coroner’s Court on Wednesday heard that a blocked drain had resulted in a "significant amount of water" building up on the motorway on the day of the crash.

PC Martin Davies, a forensic collision investigator for Greater Manchester Police (GMP), said it had been raining "quite considerably" prior to the crash.

As Clarke drove along the clockwise M60, Blake was sitting in the back of the BMW while his younger brother was a front seat passenger.

The BMW was "poorly maintained", with both of its rear tyres below the legal limit, the inquest heard.

While attempting to switch lanes, the inquest heard that he lost control of his vehicle. As the BMW aquaplaned on standing water, it began to spin.

Another vehicle had also aquaplaned on the same stretch of carriageway earlier that day, the inquest was told.

Blake Consterdine-Clarke died in hospital after suffering serious injuries in the crash. (Cavendish)
Blake Consterdine-Clarke died in hospital after suffering serious injuries in the crash. (Cavendish)

By this point, PC Davies said it would have "practically impossible to correct". He told the hearing that the BMW's tyre pressure, tread depth, and the amount of standing water on the road had all contributed to the loss of control.

The tread depth on each of the vehicle's rear tyres was below the legal limit, PC Davies said. One was "effectively bald", which would have reduced the tyre's ability to disperse water, he explained.

PC Davies said the amount of water on the carriageway was "not typical" for a motorway and a car with adequate tread depth and tyre pressure travelling below the speed limit could have aquaplaned, he told the hearing.

Concluding that Blake died as a result of a road traffic accident, senior coroner Alison Mutch described his death as a "great tragedy".

She ruled that the blocked drain had contributed to the crash, and raised concerns about the lack of records documenting when it was last cleaned.

However, she said she was satisfied that National Highways had made "significant changes" to reduce the risk of flooding on its motorways.