Doncaster dad died ‘playing chicken’

Daniel Thomas Cooke
Daniel Thomas Cooke

A young dad told his mates ‘look at me, I’m Superman’ moments before he ran in front of a car and was killed when he was thrown 20ft in the air, a Doncaster inquest was told.

Daniel Thomas Cooke was said to have been ‘playing chicken’ by running in front of vehicles on Hampole Balk Lane, Skellow, last October after he and his friends had been drinking.

The 20-year old father of two young children had no intention of hurting himself and would have been disinhibited by the alcohol he had consumed, said Assistant Coroner Mike Mellun, who recorded a conclusion of misadventure.

Daniel, a flooring contractor, of Martindale Walk, Carcroft, died from severe brain trauma and his organs were donated for transplantation.

A medical expert estimated the amount of alcohol in his bloodstream at the time of the collision would have been 153 milligrams, almost twice the legal driving limit, and he would have been ‘disinhibited’.

Before the fatal collision, Daniel had run in front of another car, and a scooter rider had to swerve to avoid him, as he ran across the road while he and three friends walked towards an all-night garage for cigarettes.

One of them, his cousin, Celine Groom, said Daniel had three bottles of lager and a brandy and coke at her house and walked out with another lager.

As they walked he deliberately ran at a bus shelter, saying ‘look at me, I’m Superman’ and she described him as ‘hyper’.

Miss Groom said: “He was walking in the middle of the road, all of us except Cookie walked on the path and I tried to drag him but he said ‘get off me’. He just ran out and just laughed. We told him to stop. He was showing off. I could see a car coming and told him to move, he didn’t listen.

“I knew what he was going to do. He didn’t mean to hurt himself, he just ran out and it hit him and he bounced up on the roof.”

Car driver Jacob Vernellen, 19, who is not being prosecuted and had not been drinking, told the inquest: “I was not expecting anything. I got about two metres from Daniel, I can’t remember whether it was a leap or he ran out. I did everything I could to stop the vehicle. I was in so much shock and in pieces.”

Collision investigator Mark Smith said the driver could not have anticipated the actions of the pedestrian and the collision occurred while Mr Vernellen was still reacting and before he braked. “There was nothing the car driver could have done to prevent the collision.”

The coroner said Daniel was obviously in high spirits and his “tragic death arose when he was a little disinhibited and he did something in which he had no intention of hurting himself. He intended to run across and miss the car but unexpectedly Daniel miscalculated and he was struck by the car.”

Daniel’s mother, Helen Humble, said the former Campsmount School pupil, who loved fishing, was always ‘happy go lucky’.

“He lived life to the full. If there was a party, he was there. Since his death I have been very depressed and I can’t eat. I talk to his picture every day. I have good days and bad days,” she said.