Passenger caused fatal crash after 'jokingly' grabbing steering wheel

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A passenger in a car caused his own death after playfully grabbing the steering wheel, resulting in the car swerving off the road and crashing.
Aldershot man John Stow, 25, was being driven home from the pub by his fiancé Johanna Mullhaupt in June this year, when the accident occurred in the Church Crookham area.

An inquest into his death at Alton Magistrates' Court heard that he had jokingly grabbed the wheel, which caused Ms Mullhaupt's Peugeot 206 to veer off course and hit a tree, before it came to rest upside-down in a ditch.

Ms Mullhaupt and a second passenger suffered minor cuts and bruises.

The court heard that she had not been drinking and that her car was the only one on the stretch of road at the time of the crash.

Ms Mullhaupt told the court she could tell her fiancé was intoxicated, as he had been drinking large quantities of beer and cider and had been "talking a lot of rubbish", reported

Recalling the incident, she said: "He grabbed the wheel. He didn't mean to intentionally cause the crash – he did it in a joking way.

"The car veered and hit the grass verge on the right side of the road. I tried to straighten it up, but then I was knocked out. I remember waking up and trying to get my head around what actually happened. I saw him lying there and needed to know if he was all right."

A forensic report on the collision suggested that neither of the passengers had been wearing seatbelts, and that the crash could have been initiated as Ms Mullhaupt pulled the wheel back, causing the car to destabilise.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Andrew Bailey offered his sympathy to Mr Stow's friends and family.
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