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Catterick soldier killed after walking on motorway
TRIBUTES have been paid to a soldier who died when he was hit by a lorry while walking along a motorway.
Kurt Oliver Etheridge decided to head back to his Army base in Catterick after failing to get a hotel room following a night out with friends in Darlington town centre.
An inquest in Crook , County Durham, yesterday heard how the 21-year-old, from Hereford, had taken a taxi to the Aston Hotel, at junction 59 on the A1(M), near Newton Aycliffe, on April 22 in the hope of staying the night.
However, he was unsuccessful and set off walking down the southbound carriageway.
Anthony Hanson, who was driving an NHS car carrying blood to Darlington Memorial Hospital, said he was forced to swerve to avoid Mr Etheridge.
As the road was quiet, Mr Hanson put his blue lights on and reversed to ask him what he was doing. Mr Etheridge replied, “I’m just walking”, took out his mobile phone and wandered off towards the barrier at the edge of the hard shoulder.
Mr Hanson, who was unable to give the soldier a lift because of his job, left but alerted police as soon as he reached the hospital.
Shortly afterwards HGV driver Stephen Morrison, who was travelling at 53mph on his way back to his depot shortly after 3am, said a “dark shape”
appeared suddenly in his lights.
He said he tried to avoid Mr Etheridge but hit him before narrowly missing the central reservation.
“I did my utmost, I really did,” he said “There was nothing I could do. I can only imagine what you (Mr Etheridge’s father) are feeling. I send my sympathies.”
Mr Etheridge died of head injuries.
A post-mortem examination recorded 226mg of alcohol in his blood. The legal driving limit is 80mg.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Andrew Tweddle said: “A collision was all but inevitable. It was an accident.
All of the pieces of the puzzle landed in that way.
Mr Etheridge’s father, Colin Redding, who lives in Blackpool, said: “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We had just started to get to know each other for the first time since he was a baby. He was such a lovely lad.
“I am devastated but I am grateful to have the memories that I have.”