Soldier dies after returning from Iran

John A Silkstone

Mi General
MI.Net Member
Jul 11, 2004
Soldier killed hours after returning from Iraq

A soldier was killed with his best friend while driving to see his girlfriend to celebrate his homecoming from Iraq, an inquest heard.

Lance Corporal Paul Knight, 20, of 4th Battalion The Rifles, from Croydon, but died just hours after returning to Britain following more than six months of intense urban fighting in Iraq.

His best friend Lance Corporal Nathan Long, 22, also of 4th Rifles, from Gloucester, who had returned from the Gulf about three months earlier, was driving them to Salisbury when he swerved to avoid a four-inch deep pool of flood water.

They were on their way to meet Lance Corporal Knight's girlfriend Nicola Reynolds but were killed when their Vauxhall Corsa crashed head-on into a Mercedes Vito taxi near Kiwi Barracks, Bulford Camp in Wiltshire on November 21 2007.

A post-mortem showed L/Cpl Long died of head and chest injuries and L/Cpl Knight died of chest injuries, Salisbury Coroners Court head.

Coroner Peter Hatvany recorded accidental death verdicts and said: "This is a particularly sad case because both men had been on active service in Iraq in a far more dangerous forum than here and it is particularly tragic that they should have died in this way.

"This accident would not have occurred but for that pool of water. Certain steps have been taken as a result of this accident."

The inquest heard a 30-mile-an-hour stretch had been extended to include the crash site, flood warning signs had been erected and street lighting had been fixed.

About 3,200 people die and a further 270,000 are injured in road accidents each year in Britain, according to the Office of National Statistics.

But recent Ministry of Defence research suggested soldiers were twice as likely to die as civilians.

The Army is so concerned about the problem it launched a £500,000 advertising campaign earlier this year with the slogan "Drive carefully – you're tough but not invincible".

Two television adverts show a soldier riding his motorbike, one warns "You're an accident waiting to happen", as a soldier is thrown off his bike after speeding on a motorway.

The other ad shows a motorcyclist losing control on a country lane and the devastation that his death brings to his family.

The inquest heard that neither soldier was wearing a seat belt and both were killed instantly.

Taxi driver Anthony Ellis, a former soldier, had slowed down ahead of a 30mph zone into the camp.

He said: "I saw a vehicle coming in the opposite direction. I looked down to check my speed, changed gear and then I was hit."

L/Cpl Long was travelling at about 50mph, accelerating into a 70mph zone, while Mr Ellis was driving at about 40mph when his taxi hit the passenger side of the Corsa as it swung out of control.

Kimberley Weston was a passenger in a car travelling behind the taxi.

She spoke to the taxi driver and said in a statement: "He replied the other car had hit the puddle and had come out of nowhere."

Ms Reynolds, L/Cpl Knight's girlfriend, said L/Cpl Long was a "safe and careful" driver, but added: "On the one occasion I was in the car with them, they did not put their seat belts on until I nagged them to do so."

Korinne Marsh, L/Cpl Long's fiancée, said: "I was surprised he wasn't wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. I put that down to him being excited about having his friend back and a bit of macho behaviour."

But she said: "He was a slow, careful driver. I used to tease him about this, but was glad he wasn't a risk-taker or drove too fast."

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