A FREAK ice storm that created lethal driving conditions led to the death of a driver, an inquest heard.
Aaron Frost, a 25-year-old kitchen fitter, was travelling home from work along the A27 when he was caught in a hail storm that turned the road into a sheet of ice.
An inquest at Portsmouth Guildhall heard Aaron lost control of his BMW saloon and crashed into a concrete barrier at the side of the road.
The car then hit a lamp post and overturned before coming to rest on its side in a ditch, close to the onslip at Emsworth, just before the Shell garage.
The inquest heard Aaron was travelling back home to Bognor having worked in the Petersfield area and stopped off at the McDonald’s drive-through on the A3.
He was chatting on a hands free mobile phone with his best friend, Jake Gladwin, for about 15 minutes.
In a statement, Jake said he suddenly heard Aaron swear.
He said: ‘I heard a crash sound. I tried calling for five minutes but did not get a response.’
Wayne Angus, a lorry driver, said the weather changed very quickly that evening, at about 7.50pm on January 13.
‘The hail was not coming down, it was coming sideways,’ he said.
‘That’s when everything started to go crazy.’
Several cars and a van on both sides of the road started to skid and spin.
Mr Angus stopped his lorry and spotted the stricken BMW down an embankment.
‘The ice on the floor was thick,’ he said.
‘I nearly fell over. Everyone was skidding.’
Julie Brown, who travelled the same route as Aaron from Petersfield, said the sky suddenly turned an ‘angry, blue-pink colour’.
She only realised there was hail when her car arrived at Emsworth.
‘There was a blue car at 90 degrees to the road,’ she said.
‘It was so visibly white on the road.’
Paramedics took Aaron to St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, but he was pronounced dead at 9.45pm. He died from multiple injuries.
Collision investigator PC Stephen Wooton said there were no car defects and no evidence of speeding.
He said Aaron talking while driving could have reduced reaction time, but he could not be sure.
He said it was a ‘catastrophic impact’.
Coroner David Horsley, recording a verdict of accidental death, said Aaron was ‘blameless’ in what happened.
He said: ‘What happened to Aaron happened in a split second.
‘From driving on a perfectly safe road, in a split second, they were all in an extremely dangerous position where we had this flash ice storm.’
Mr Horsley said ice storms were rare in Britain, but he had experienced them himself driving in the USA.
‘It was a very frightening thing,’ he said.
‘It’s quite easy to understand why poor Aaron simply lost control.’
After the inquest Aaron’s aunt Glenna Frost, from Bognor, said: ‘He was a lovely lad and his family really miss him.
‘It’s such a tragic accident. It was just the wrong place at the wrong time.’