Much-loved man died after falling from under lorry
AHUGELY popular and much loved Cheltenham man died after climbing under a lorry and later being run over by it, an inquest has found.
Simon Mcdonnell, often called “Big Si”, died aged 27 at around 2am on August 16, in a collision with a delivery lorry on the A40 Gloucester Road.
Hundreds of mourners attended the carpet fitter’s funeral on September 14, as family members paid tribute to the “true legend” of Cheltenham and “once in a lifetime character”.
An inquest into the death of Mr Mcdonnell was held at Gloucester Coroners Court.
Senior coroner for Gloucestershire, Katy Skerrett, recorded a death by misadventure.
The court heard Mr Mcdonnell climbed under a HGV and hung onto the fuel tank for more than two miles as it was driven through Cheltenham, before losing his grip and being run over.
He had been drinking in the town centre that night.
Mrs Skerrett said there was a “significant” level of alcohol in his body, 283mg per 100ml of blood. The legal limit for driving is 80mg.
She added the alcohol was not a fatal amount but was “very high”, while there was also a “significant amount” of cocaine in his system.
“This perhaps provides a possible explanation for risk-taking behaviour,” Mrs Skerrett said.
CCTV showed Mr Mcdonnell talking to Tomasz Kalmuk, the driver of a white Mercedes Antos lorry, at around 1.46am in Cambray Place.
Collision investigator PC Phil Reese told the court: “There appears to be some form of very short conversation. Mr Kalmuk does not recall this.
“Mr Kalmuk is at the rear of the vehicle loading and unloading. Mr Mcdonnell walks to the side of the Mercedes.”
He said Mr Mcdonnell climbed under the lorry without being seen by Mr Kalmuk, who then drove it away.
PC Reese added that Mr Mcdonnell held on for more than two miles, as the Mercedes travelled onto the A40.
He fell from the underside as the vehicle approached the A40’s junction with Benhall Avenue.
Mr Mcdonnell sustained fatal injuries. Two passers-by alerted emergency services to the collision.
Recording her verdict, Mrs Skerrett said: “What is clear is he has sustained overwhelming, unsustainable-with-life injuries.
“It is clear the driver of the vehicle had no idea the tragic incident unfolded. What is relevant is the high levels of alcohol and drugs in Mr Mcdonnell’s system.
“It is likely this would have affected his sense of risk and the tendency to put himself at risk by taking the actions he did.”
Mrs Skerrett expressed her sympathies to Mr Mcdonnell’s family.
At Simon’s funeral in September, hundreds of mourners heard moving tributes paid to him.
His older sister Caroline said he was ‘Peter Pan’ in her moving eulogy.
“He never wanted to grow up,” she said. “If I only had one word to sum Simon up it would be ‘fun.’
“He was also infectious, charming, kind, unique, a real cheeky chappy, one of a kind and, as he would say, the most handsome chap in Cheltenham.”
Simon Mcdonnell, centre, with sisters Christine Mcdonnell, left, and Caroline Cole