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Dad's fatal decision to drink drive after party left van overturned in Beltinge Road, Herne Bay

A doting dad-of-three who died after crashing into a lamppost was more than three times the drink-drive limit, an inquest has heard.

Roofer Aaron Kenehan was not wearing a seatbelt when his white Ford Transit van overturned in Beltinge Road, Herne Bay, as he drove away from a party in the centre of town.

Aaron Kenehan died after overturning his car in Herne Bay
Aaron Kenehan died after overturning his car in Herne Bay

A hearing at Archbishop’s Palace, Maidstone, was told on Tuesday that his mother, Maureen Hambleton, had grown concerned for the 40-year-old in the weeks leading up to his death.

Mr Kenehan had broken up from his long-term partner, whom he had spent seven years with – but was said to be keen on seeing their two children as he regularly attended parenting classes.

Reading from a statement penned by sister Emma Barnett, assistant coroner Sonia Hayes said: “He was one of the most kind-hearted humans you could ever meet.

“The family named him their lovable rogue. He had a smile that would melt thousands of hearts.

“He was a loving dad. We will never fully understand why he was taken away so soon.”

Policedordoned off a section of Beltinge Road after the fatal crash in December
Policedordoned off a section of Beltinge Road after the fatal crash in December

The van driver, who was from Sidcup, had been regularly visiting Herne Bay for a number of weeks after entering into a relationship with an old school friend.

He had driven from south London to the Kent coast a few days before Christmas in order to meet his partner’s friends for the first time.

But he left the party in the early hours of the morning on Sunday, December 22.

Before he drove off, his partner’s friends had taken his keys out of the van’s ignition and placed them in his footwell.

Emergency services were called to the scene of the crash at 4.40am, where Mr Kenehan was pronounced dead.

Aaron crashed his van in Beltinge Road in the early of hours of the morning on December 22
Aaron crashed his van in Beltinge Road in the early of hours of the morning on December 22

Reading from Ms Hambleton’s statement, Ms Hayes said: “He was trying to support his children and he wanted to see them. He had attended a 10-week parenting course all summer.

“It was towards November when he did not look well. I was very worried about him.

“He was going to Herne Bay very regularly. I was concerned he was burning the candle at both ends.

“He rang on December 20 and said he was safe and in Herne Bay. I was happy that he was happy.”

Toxicology reports found the level of alcohol in Mr Kenehan’s blood was at more than 240 milligrams per 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80.

"It’s possible he lost consciousness. It was the impairment with alcohol that caused the accident..."

Tests also found traces of cannabis and cocaine in his system.

PC Helen Waghorn told the hearing this week that officers believe Mr Kenehan had been driving at about 40mph – 10mph more than the speed limit – as he approached a bend in the road.

“There’s no physical evidence of any braking. There are suggestions that the seatbelt was not in use at the time of the collision,” she added.

“Essentially, the primary cause of the collision is the fact that Aaron was unable to negotiate this slight righthand bend in the road.”

DS Barry Goodsell also concluded that “the responsibility for the collision lay with the deceased”.

But an eyewitness, who had been walking along the road at the time of the incident, noted the van had been “driving very normally” before the collision.

During her conclusion, assistant coroner Sonia Hayes said Mr Kenehan’s death was caused directly by a base skull fracture and brain haemorrhage.

She added: “At some point he ingested some illegal drugs.

“It’s more likely than not he had taken some cocaine while drinking. We have evidence that the amounts of alcohol at the time of the accident would have been sufficient to make him pass out.

“It’s possible he lost consciousness. It was the impairment with alcohol that caused the accident.

“If Aaron had been wearing his seat belt his injuries may not have been fatal.”

For more information on how we can report on inquests, click here.

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