Teen Spared Jail For Killing Best Friend When Prank Went Horrendously Wrong
A teenager who killed his best friend when he crushed his skull under his car tyre in a prank gone wrong has been spared jail.
Harrison Walker, 19, was behind the wheel of his parked car last year when his friend Garret Hurst, also 19, jumped onto his bonnet in a pub car park as a joke.
Walker drove off at around 5mph with Hurst on the bonnet of his Ford Fiesta before the latter was thrown off the vehicle when the Dukes of Hazzard-style prank went wrong.
Last month, Walker, who was 17 at the time of the incident, was found guilty of causing death by careless driving following a trial at Warwick Crown Court. Yesterday, November 12, he was handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years and banned from driving for three years.
The court heard how Walker and his girlfriend had gone to the Crows Nest pub in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, on June 3 last year. They met friends, including Hurst and his partner, and when the group left at 9.30pm Walker agreed to drive them home.
However, when Walker got behind the wheel he pretended to drive off without Hurst – an aspiring police officer – who jumped onto the bonnet as a joke.
Prosecutor Cathlyn Orchard said:
Harrison Walker made what proved to be a fatal decision, and drove off.
Hurst lost his grip and fell under the car, with the front tyre running over his head and causing multiple skull fractures along with ‘an unsurvivable brain injury’. He was rushed to hospital but, despite an emergency operation, died three days later.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC said while Walker ‘did not deliberately run Garret Hurst over’ and while some people may think Hurst’s ‘own actions’ contributed to his death, Walker was the driver of the vehicle so ‘he alone was responsible for the quality of his driving’.
The judge said:
The prosecution say his driving fell below that to be expected, and that that contributed to Garret Hurst’s death. I believe this young man feels more sorry for himself than for anyone else.
Addressing Walker, Judge Lockhart continued:
As to your expression of remorse, I reject it. The way to show that would have been to acknowledge your guilt. This was careless driving falling not far short of dangerous driving.
Lack of driving experience had nothing to do with this. It was crass foolishness. You say you hope to join the Navy. That requires a degree of bravery, something you have conspicuously failed to show in this case. You need to learn how to take responsibility.
Walker said Hurst’s death was ‘something [he’s] got to live with now’, adding: ‘As soon as I saw him fall off, my judgment was to stop the car to see if he was OK.’
But Hurst’s heartbroken parents, Nicola and Lee, said the difficulty of having to sit through a trial and have ‘somebody read out [their] son’s injuries and the actions leading up to his death’ could not be put into words.
They described Hurst as an ambitious young man who ‘was loved by everyone he met’, and in a joint statement said: ‘I will never see Garret get married, raise a family, watch him grow into a man and see what father he would be to his children.’
Our thoughts are with Hurst’s family at this difficult time. Rest in peace, Garret.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.