A 21-YEAR-OLD driver died in a crash caused by a problem with his tyre pressure while out shopping for a card on his mother’s birthday.

Ben Folley, of Beech Road in Chinnor, near Thame, was one of two people who died in a crash on the B4445 on January 26.

Inquests into the young driver’s death, and the death of Jill Evans, of Walwyn Road in Malvern, were held at Oxford Coroner’s Court yesterday.

The court heard how the pair were travelling in separate cars along the rural country road when the crash happened shortly after 9.15am.

Mrs Evans, 58, was a passenger in the back of her daughter’s white Volkswagen Golf with her grandson and husband, and daughter driving.

Mr Folley, travelling between Thame and Chinnor, was driving alone in his black Mini Cooper.

The court heard how the 21-year-old labourer was out driving to get his mum a birthday card, later found in the footwell, when he crashed.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter described how Mr Folley lost control on a bend and veered to the other side of the 60mph road, into the path of the oncoming VW Golf.

Brian Evans, Mrs Evans' husband who was in the front passenger seat, said: “We were approaching a left hand bend when I became aware of a small hatchback car coming towards us, on the wrong side of the road.”

Mr Evans described seeing Mr Folley’s car ‘about 50 yards away’ about one second before impact.

A black box in the Mini recorded Mr Folley driving at a safe 58mph, and the other car was thought to be at similar speed.

Mr Evans added: “It was an almighty crash, and crunch of metal on metal. The airbags went off and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.”

Statements from forensic vehicle examiners detailed to the court that the VW had no defects.

But in examining the Mini Cooper, investigators found the rear nearside tyre was deflated prior to the crash.

Forensic Collision Investigator James Henderson said further examination found that the tyre was ‘severely under inflated’ at the time of the crash, and was likely to have been driven in that condition for ‘a significant distance’.

Mr Folley's father said in court that his wife, an experienced driver, had driven the car in the days before the crash and had not noticed any issues with the tyre pressure.

An internal indicator designed to make drivers aware of potential flat tyres had not been lit.

Mr Folley said had his son seen such an alert, he would have dealt with it immediately or asked a member of family to do so. 

When Mr Folley, who was found to have no alcohol or drugs in his system, went to navigate the bend this would likely have led him to lose control, investigators said. He said: “It is highly likely this deflated rear inside tyre contributed to the loss of control”

The cause of death for both crash victims was multiple injuries caused by a road traffic collision.

A comment read aloud from Mr Folley’s mother Sarah said the family are ‘totally devastated’ and said her son "wasn’t a speeder, drinker or risk taker. He was a calm gentle boy.”

Speaking in court, she added: “He was a bookworm, a quiet lad, he wasn’t a drinker, he loved his family. He was very sensible, and was a worrier. If he thought anything was wrong [with the car] he would have asked for help.”