MANCHESTER – Two Britons who were best friends for more than 30 years died on a dream holiday on March 23, 2013 with their wives after being hit by a speeding truck while out walking, an inquest in Manchester heard.
Derek Gent and Mike Holmes, both 68, were enjoying a holiday-of-a-lifetime on the tropical island of Koh Samui near Thailand with their wives, Christine and Janet, when the crash occurred.
Derek Gent and Mike Holmes, were killed when the driver of a grey Toyota lost control of his vehicle while trying to overtake another car at ‘high speed’ on a single lane road, the inquest heard.
When the Toyota collided with the other vehicle – believed to be a pick-up truck – it span out of control and hit both Mr Gent and Mr Holmes, who were walking on the pavement alongside the Koh Samui ring road.
An inquest into their deaths in Heywood, Greater Manchester, yesterday heard how the car also ploughed into a restaurant during the terrifying crash on March 23, 2013.
Authorities in Thailand said Mr Gent and Mr Holmes were killed instantly, and their wives – who had remained at the hotel while the men went out walking – were left devastated by the tragedy.
Speaking at the inquest, Mrs Holmes said: ‘It’s difficult because we only spoke to the staff at the hotel, they were the only ones passing on information.’
The 33-year-old driver of the Toyota was later charged with negligence and given a two-year suspended jail sentence with one year’s probation.
He was also ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 Baht, approximately £950.
Coroner Simon Nelson said there was a lack of detail in the translated records sent by the Thai authorities.
He said it was unknown exactly how fast the Toyota was travelling and said there wasn’t any statement from the other driver involved in the incident.
It is believed the driver of the Toyota escaped the crash without injury while the other driver was said to be seriously injured and taken to a Bangkok hospital.
Mr Gent and Mr Holmes’ families believe the other driver may have been left in a coma following the collision.
Coroner Mr Nelson said: ‘I appreciate that the quality of the information bears little similarity to that I would expect to receive in similar circumstances from Greater Manchester Police.’
He concluded that both men died while being pedestrians subject to a road traffic collision.
Following their deaths, their children released a joint statement in which they said they were ‘really struggling to comprehend their loss.’
The statement added: ‘It has shocked us all and left a massive hole in our lives. Derek and Mike were regular golfing partners and friends for more than 30 years.
‘Devoted husbands, fathers and grandfathers, their loss will be felt by our families and their many friends.
‘Our mothers Janet Holmes and Christine Gent have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support they have received from the employees of the resort where they were staying (Rocky’s Boutique Resort), the Thai people and the holiday company they travelled with (Kuoni).’
Mr Gent, a retired head of Trading Standards at Oldham Council, was “a very well respected” officer, councillors said.
Councillor John Battye said: “This has come as a shock. He transformed our service from mediocre to one of the best in Manchester. He was very well respected.”