"He paid a savage price": Teen's Leeds city-centre death to remain a mystery

The death of a promising teenage Leeds student who crashed into a wall in the city centre may forever remain a mystery, a coroner admitted this week.

By Nick Frame
Friday, 5th August 2022, 4:30 pm

Piotr Piekara lost control of his Ford Fiesta on an entry slip road onto the A64(M) at Woodhouse on the evening of Saturday, December 19, 2020.

The 17-year-old, who had only passed his test three months prior, suffered “unsurvivable” head and chest injuries after his car slid sideways into the concrete wall, with the driver’s side taking the impact.

One of his teenage passengers was thrown 10 metres clear of the vehicle, another was able to release himself after the car came to rest. Both somehow sustained only minor injuries.

Piotr Piekara was close to turning 18 when he sadly died.

Piotr, from Woodhouse, remained unconscious and died later that night at Leeds General Infirmary.

The inquest into his death was held at Wakefield Coroner’s Court today, but despite extensive forensic analysis, the reasons behind the crash can still only be speculated.

Senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin, said: "It’s become a mystery.

“Something caused that vehicle to lose control.

"Piotr’s inexperience is perhaps a factor in the absence of any explanation.

"It might have been some momentary error that led to to this terrible, tragic catastrophe.

"Piotr has paid a savage price for any moment of lapse in concentration.

"It’s heartbreaking that a young man with such promise is taken in this way. It’s immensely sad.”

Piotr, a sixth-form student, had been out with friends that day and two cars were driving in convoy, although there was no suggestion either were racing.

At around 9.30pm the Fiesta was seen entering the slip road at Woodhouse before losing control, hitting the kerb and sending it into the wall.

Toxicology results showed low levels of alcohol in Piotr’s system, which could have occurred naturally after death.

Had he consumed any alcohol, he was well within the limit.

Giving evidence, Sgt Nicholas Brady-Smith - a police forensic investigator - said conditions were fine, although the road was damp.

He said it was not possible to determine the Fiesta’s speed as it entered the 30mph-limit slip road which curved to the left.

Sgt Brady-Smith suggested that Piotr may have “failed to appreciate the severity of the bend he was going into”.

Piotr’s family, who were in attendance at today’s inquest, quizzed the officer over an “ankle-deep” pothole on the slip road, which was filled in days after the crash.

They asked whether it could have been a factor.

But Sgt Brady-Smith said the car was in the left-hand lane, where there was no pothole, and there was no evidence of the tyre being damaged.

Mr McLoughlin recorded a verdict of road traffic collision.

Piotr was born in Poland, but his family moved to the UK in 2008.

He played football for Chapeltown Juniors FC and rugby for North Leeds Leopards. He would have turned 18 in January, 2021.

A statement written by his cousin, Daria Stachera, was read out at the inquest.

She said: “He was a very loving and affectionate person.

“He was very ambitious in his studying and worked hard.

“He wanted to go to the United States to make a better life for him and his family.

“He loved life and radiated happiness wherever he was.

“He was taken from his family far too early.”