Teenager died in baking' car
PUBLISHED: 15:44 24 July 2007 | UPDATED: 15:10 12 May 2010
A TEENAGE holidaymaker died after being left to sober up inside a car which became too hot in the baking Spanish sun. Temperatures reached a sweltering 50 degrees centigrade inside the vehicle and caused teenager Andrew Lewin to suffer a massive heatstro
A TEENAGE holidaymaker died after being left to sober up inside a car which became too hot in the baking Spanish sun.
Temperatures reached a sweltering 50 degrees centigrade inside the vehicle and caused teenager Andrew Lewin to suffer a massive heatstroke.
Andrew, 18, had been helped out of a nightclub in Marbella early in the morning after spending the small hours drinking tequilas.
He was already semi-conscious an inquest heard today (Tuesday) and had to be helped into a car for the drive back to where he and his friends were staying.
On arrival 25 minutes later, he couldn't be roused and it was decided to leave him in the car.
The windows were shut and, as the sun came up on the July morning, it was turning into one of the hottest days of the month, the court was told.
Unaware of the danger he was in, Andrew, a keen sportsman, of Mill House, Rushden, near Buntingford, was left in the car as the sun climbed higher.
The alarm was raised shortly before 1.20 pm after he had slumped across the front passenger seat and triggered off the car's alarm.
The story was revealed during an inquest into his death at Hatfield Coroner's Court.
Andrew died almost 10 years ago on July 29, 1997 while on holiday near Marbella in southern Spain.
Coroner Edward Thomas heard how during the early hours Andrew and his friends were in a club where he drank tequilas.
On leaving, at about 8.20am, he was in a heavily intoxicated state and had to be helped into a car for the drive back to their accommodation.
During the journey his friends found it impossible to rouse him and when the car eventually stopped it was decided to leave him inside the vehicle.
The court heard that on the day he died it was one of the hottest days of the month in the Southern Spain area.
Temperatures at 7am were already at 21.6 degrees centigrade and by 1pm the outside temperature was 30 degrees centigrade.
His body was found shortly before 1.20pm.
The inquest was told that as the sun rose temperatures inside the car would have rapidly increased, creating a "greenhouse effect".
Consultant engineer Raymond Morrisey, a Health & Safety accident investigator, said by as early as 9.50 that morning it was possible the temperature inside the car was 40 degrees centigrade.
By midday, he said temperatures could have reached between 45 and 50.
The court was told the normal body temperature is 37 degrees and as Andrew lay sleeping off the effects of his drinking session, his body heat would have started to rise rapidly.
Dr Nathaniel Cary, a consultant forensic pathologist, said that when Andrew's body was discovered inside the car his shirt was drenched in sweat.
He said the effect of the rising heat on Andrew would have been to cause multi-organ failure and cause toxic substances to leak into the bloodstream.
He said in his opinion the cause of death was heatstroke and acute alcohol intoxication.
The inquest heard that blood tests showed Andrew to be two and a half times over the legal driving limit.
Dr Cary said the effects of a high reading of alcohol in his body could have meant his ability to deal with a dangerous situation was impaired.
He told the court the fact that Andrew had been drinking made him "more vulnerable" to the effects of the heat.
"From a medical point of view, he was in a vulnerable position," said Dr Cary.
Toxicologist Prof Alexander Forrest said that the amount of alcohol Andrew had consumed would not have been enough to have caused his death on its own.
He said he was also of the opinion that his death was due to a heatstroke and said that alcohol intoxication had also made a real contribution.
The inquest heard that after Andrew's death, a post-mortem examination was carried out in Spain which concluded death was due to positional asphyxia.
The hearing continues.