Inquest hears North West soldiers killed in Afghanistan crash

An inquest into the deaths of four soldiers who died when their armoured vehicle plunged into a deep canal in Afghanistan four years ago begins today.

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Inquest told of "explosion" before crash

Pte Michael Peers, who was in the Ridgeback when it turned over and fell into the canal, described to the inquest how he managed to escape from the submerged vehicle and make his way to safety as he was on the brink of unconsciousness.

In a statement read to the hearing, he said the vehicle was travelling at speed, leaving the following Ridgeback to trail behind at some distance, as it responded to the call for help from the ANP at CP5. He said that the crew were all wearing their seatbelts and had opened the hatches as they travelled close to the canal.

He said: "I heard a loud bang which was like an explosion, I do not know where it came from or where it impacted if it did impact.

"I felt the vehicle jolt and I thought it might be an IED. I felt the vehicle swerve then flip over on to its right hand side.

"The whole event lasted a couple of seconds or less. The vehicle then fell over on to its left side and submerged in the water, I didn't have time to take a breath.

"I managed to stand up and pushed out on the walls and found an opening, I managed to pull myself through the opening. I cannot expand on any further details because of the shock and confusion."

He said the weight of his body armour caused him to sink below the surface of the water. "I couldn't remove my body armour and in my last moment of consciousness I managed to kick my legs."

He was then helped from the water by members of the ANP. He added: "I started to cough up lots of water."

He said it took about 45 minutes to retrieve the vehicle from the water which involved the other Ridgeback using a tow rope to pull it out.

Pte Peers said that he then saw the bodies of Pte Isaac then L/Cpl Ramsden being brought out of the vehicle. He said: "I was in shock, I smoked about 20 cigarettes to calm down."

And he added: "I do not know what may have caused the accident but I did see extensive damage to the front of the Ridgeback."

The inquest, which is due to last six days, was adjourned until tomorrow.

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