A FATHER-of-two died out in the cold after failing to reach help after crashing his car, an inquest heard.
Eric Ely was found dead by a farmer two days after he crashed his silver BMW into a field off Manchester Road at Marsden last June.
The Huddersfield inquest heard how the 60-year-old financial adviser had veered off the road as he travelled towards Huddersfield.
His car smashed into a stone wall and came to rest on land owned by a local farmer.
The low-speed crash caused little damage to Mr Ely’s car and he walked away uninjured. But as he made his way from the car he tripped and fell.
The abandoned car was discovered soon after the accident, but Mr Ely wasn’t found until two days later when the farmer who owned the land stumbled across his body.
A post-mortem revealed that Mr Ely died from hypothermia, having been exposed to particularly cold and wet weather.
His predicament had been made worse because injuries sustained in the fall meant he was unable to move easily to get help.
The inquest heard a statement from Mr Ely’s daughter, Maxine, who along with her sister, Samantha, had been very close to her father.
She said her father had been divorced from their mother for 20 years, but had recently found love again and marriage had been on the cards.
But the relationship had deteriorated, which had left her father devastated and depressed in the months before he died.
She said she became worried about him as it was clear to her that he was unwell and suffering a breakdown.
She said her father told her that he had attempted suicide and had started talking about his twin, Graham, who tragically killed himself when he was a teenager.
She said he had become paranoid that people wanted to harm him.
Tragically, she heard her father’s last words on the night of the accident.
She said: “He had disappeared, but I managed to get through to him on the phone. He was screaming: ‘What have I done, why are they after me?’
“He said he had driven into a wall and was hurt. He sounded like he was walking quickly and the phone cut out. I called the police and reported him missing.”
Farmer Jack Penny told the inquest how he made the grim discovery of Mr Ely’s body on June 30, lying just metres away from the car at the bottom of a steep bank.
The day earlier he had been told the car was there, but had just assumed it had been abandoned by a joyrider.
Pc Ian Harris, of the South Kirklees Road Policing Unit, said the car had not been speeding when it left the road.
He would have expected the crash to have been ‘survivable’ due to the little damage it caused to the front of the car.
Mr Ely was found lying next to a stone wall further down the field with a head injury.
The post-mortem showed that Mr Ely, of Whitefield, near Manchester, suffered fractures to his right knee and wrist during the fall. He suffered from hypothermia which was worsened by his existing heart disease.
Coroner Roger Whittaker said that while Mr Ely was deeply distressed at the time of his death he did not believe he had intended to take his own life, a verdict which he said he had considered because of Mr Ely’s personal traumas.
Recording a verdict of accidental death Mr Whittaker said: “He was extremely upset, but his actions were not those of a man who wanted to kill himself by that vehicle.
“However, it is probable that his distressed state may have caused him to leave the road.
“Being out in the cold precipitated his predicament and his heart disease wouldn’t have helped. His injuries meant he was more likely to stay there and it is likely he died soon after the collision two days earlier.”