A “devoted" dad was tragically killed when a BMW driver who had taken a cocktail of drugs crashed into his van.
Stefan Hayles, 30, had been on his way to work when John Butterworth’s car drifted across Folkestone Road in Dover, causing a head-on collision.
An inquest heard last week that Mr Butterworth, who also died in the crash, had more than 100 times the permitted level of methamphetamine in his system when he got behind the wheel.
Data from his phone revealed he had left a party in the borrowed BMW before spending the night driving without taking a rest.
Police were called to the scene at 5.10am on February 13 this year.
Due to the time of day, there were no witnesses to the crash and no CCTV footage was available.
The only testimony available to the coroner was that of Jack Thornton – a friend of Mr Hayles who had been in the white Ford Transit – and a coach driver and his passenger who came across the harrowing scene minutes after the incident.
The coach driver, who was first to alert emergency services, said: “My first thought was a bomb had gone off because it was like nothing I had seen in my life. The BMW didn’t even look like a car.”
He told the joint inquest he pulled over when he saw Mr Thornton in the road “waving his arms covered in blood”.
Without CCTV it was not possible for PC Lee Berridge, of Kent Police's Serious Collision Investigation Unit, to estimate how fast either of the vehicles were travelling. But his investigation ruled out road conditions or mechanical failure as factors in the crash.
The weather had been clear and dry, there were no defects on the road, nor any pre-existing defects to the BMW, as far as police examiners could tell, that would account for the accident.
Officers did take the lack of daylight and slightly damp road surface into consideration. However, their conclusion was that these factors would not have prevented Mr Butterworth, 30, from staying on his side of the road.
"Stefan's life was cruelly taken, leaving a hole and unimaginable pain that can never be filled or healed…”
The inquest heard he failed to follow a slight left-hand bend, leading him into the opposite lane and directly into the path of Mr Hayles's vehicle.
In the hours before the collision, data from Mr Butterworth’s phone confirmed that he left a party in the BMW before spending the night driving.
This, alongside a quantity of highly-caffeinated energy drinks found in the passenger seat of his car, suggested fatigue as a potential cause of the crash.
A post-mortem toxicology examination of Mr Butterworth’s blood and urine revealed he had 146 times the permitted level of methamphetamine in his system, alongside a toxic level of amphetamine.
He was also 16 times the limit for THC – the major psychoactive component of cannabis – and he also had benzoylecgonine, the metabolite formed in the liver after using cocaine, in his system.
Mr Hayles's toxicology report found no evidence of alcohol use or drug consumption.
The civil engineer, from Hawkinge, near Folkestone, was driving to work at the time of the accident and not wearing a seatbelt. He died at the scene from multiple injuries.
The investigation found that in the case of this collision, it is unlikely wearing his seatbelt would have impacted his condition.
Mr Hayles’s partner, Sharne Matthews, said that he “would light up any room” and was a "devoted father" who lived for their two children, Jaycee-Rae and Reggie.
His father, Lee Hayles added: "Stefan's life was cruelly taken, leaving a hole and unimaginable pain that can never be filled or healed.
“He will forever be remembered and loved by his mum and dad, Yvette and Lee, as their beautiful boy and a very special son. To his brother, Dominic, he will always be his 'Big Bro' and hero."
During the inquest, area coroner Ian Brown praised the actions of a former firefighter Jason Bostock who was first on the scene and tried to save Mr Hayles's life.
Mr Bostock was a passenger on the coach that arrived minutes after the crash and, remembering his training from his time in the emergency services, he helped to remove Mr Hayles from the van and administer first aid.
He was forced to break the Ford’s windscreen and in the process cut his finger “to the bone”.
Once paramedics arrived, Mr Bostock kept Mr Thornton company until his mother arrived.
In his testimony, Mr Thornton revealed that not only had he been friends with Mr Hayles since childhood, he had also been friendly enough with Mr Butterworth to have met him in the pub for a pint.
Mr Butterworth’s, who was due in court just two days after the crash for drug and driving offences, cause of death was given as multiple injuries and his post-mortem report, read to the court, confirmed he died instantly.
Flowers and other tributes were left at the side of the road after the crash for Mr Butterworth, who was also known as Butts.
One note said he had "always been a good mate".
"To you, my brother, I can't believe this... so many funny, crazy memories over the years," it continued.
"Thank you for always being a good mate to me, you were a silly sausage but I wouldn't have you any other way. I'll think of you always. Love you Butts."
Another read: "How are you leaving us like this?
"Was with you just yesterday, don't be drifting too much up there. We love you man."
Before recording his conclusion, coroner Ian Brown gave his condolences to Mr Hayles’ family, who were at the hearing alone, and requested they be passed on to Mr Thornton.
He also took the opportunity to praise the swift actions of the coach driver and Mr Bostock on their arrival at the scene.
The short-form conclusion of road traffic collision was given for both deaths. The cause was identified as Mr Butterworth failing to follow the left-hand bend of the road due to intoxication, fatigue or a combination of those factors.