Soldier killed in road crash just days before starting second tour of Afghanistan

Lance Corporal Joe Rix was killed in a road crash just three days before starting his second tour of duty in Afghanistan

Lance Corporal Joe Rix was killed in a road crash just three days before starting his second tour of duty in Afghanistan

A soldier was killed in a road crash just three days before he was due to start a second tour of duty in Afghanistan, an inquest heard. 

Lance Corporal Joe Rix, 22, of the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment died after a late night out in his home town of Wymondham, Norfolk.

The fitness fanatic was a passenger in a friend's speeding Honda Civic car which hit a tree beside the B1172 road at nearby Suton at 4.45am on October 17.

His friend Daniel Wilkinson told the inquest in Norwich that he lost control when he swerved to avoid a deer.

A passing lorry driver dialled 999 and L/Cpl Rix was cut from the wreckage by firefighters, but was declared dead at the scene.

He had been due to fly out to Helmand on October 20 after a previous six month tour of the province as a private in 2007 when nine of his comrades in the 1st Battalion, nicknamed The Vikings, were killed.  

The inquest heard how Mr Wilkinson had been charged with failing to provide a specimen of breath and a blood sample and was due to appear in court at a later date.

PC Simon Hall of the Norfolk Police accident investigation unit, said: 'Had he been driving appropriately and within the speed limit, he should have been able to maintain control of the vehicle.

'Taking into account the distance travelled and the damage sustained, the driver's own admission that he was driving over the speed limit seems accurate.

'It suggests maybe he left the road because of speed and not because of suddenly swerving. It's not possible to confirm or deny the presence of an animal on the road.' 

L/Cpl Rix joined the army in 2004 and received an award for being best shot as a trainee rifleman while training at Catterick in north Yorkshire.

Within months of completing his training, he did a six month tour of Iraq in 2005.  

He was promoted to Lance Corporal last year after completing a fire commander course.

Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong offered his sympathies to L/Cpl Rix's parents Peter and Diane.

He said: 'Because of other charges pending, it is not appropriate to produce evidence about what was happening until after the collision.

'What is beyond argument is Joe suffered injuries from which there was no hope of recovery and he died at the scene.

'I understand Joe was doing very well indeed and I have been told he was an exceptional soldier. It is very clear he had a very promising career in the Army and it's a tragedy it was cut short.' 

The coroner recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision.

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