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Mystery surrounds death of Rochester man Vincent Crooks near Maidstone

By David Gazet

A man died after a mystery medical episode is believed to have caused him to lose control of his car, an inquest heard.

Vincent Crooks had just left Maidstone town centre heading north on the A229 Chatham Road when his car overturned near the Running Horse Roundabout just after 3.30am on Sunday, February 12.

The 37-year-old, of The Esplanade in Rochester, had been to Maidstone to collect a friend. Instead, the friend got a taxi and the account manager is believed to have been heading home when tragedy struck.

Police at the scene of the fatal accident on the A299
Police at the scene of the fatal accident on the A299

Dashcam footage from inside the silver Volkswagen Golf captured Mr Crooks letting out a low groaning noise before the car hit the central reservation.

It then rebounded across the carriageway and down the slip road towards the roundabout. The car then hit the curb, mounted the pavement and smashed into a lamppost, a telegraph pole and a fence, before flipping over and landing on its roof.

Mr Crooks sustained multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dashcam footage was also captured from a taxi following some distance behind the Golf. This records it driving normally up until the moments before the crash.

The hearing at Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone was told there was no evidence of any relevant medical history or the presence of drugs or alcohol which could have contributed to the collision.

Police at the scene of the crash on the A229
Police at the scene of the crash on the A229

The court heard evidence from Prof Mary Sheppard, a cardiac pathologist, who investigated and found nothing wrong with Mr Crooks’ heart.

In the absence of other evidence she suggested the death was by natural causes brought on by sudden arrhythmic death syndrome.

This is an umbrella term for hundreds of conditions which affect young people and, in this case, caused his heart to fail.

This was dismissed by assistant coroner Katrina Hepburn who ruled the death a road traffic accident.

She said: “From the evidence I have I am not satisfied that the death was due to arrhythmic death syndrome. I am not satisfied that this was a natural death.”

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