A MEAL with friends ended in tragedy when a “lovely, intelligent and irreplaceable” young man died after his car hit a tree on the way home.

Edward Stryker, 30, of Moorlinch, lost control of his vehicle on the A361 near Greylake, between Othery and Moorlinch, on the evening of January 17 while driving home from a work colleague’s leaving meal.

An inquest held in Bridgwater last week was told it remains unclear what caused the accident.

A toxicology report found no traces of alcohol in Mr Stryker’s blood and evidence indicated he did not drive recklessly, recording a speed of just 28mph when his Toyota Avensis hit a grass verge.

In a statement released after his death Mr Stryker’s family described him as “irreplaceable”, and a friend said he was a “lovely, intelligent man”.

Last Tuesday’s inquest heard that Mr Stry-ker had attended a leaving meal for Kimberley Pippard, who worked with him at the UK Hydrographic Office in Taunton.

After the meal he gave another colleague a lift to her Taunton home, and she told the inquest he drove sensibly and was completely sober.

Witness David Hawarth, who was driving through Greylake just before the accident, told the inquest: “Mr Stryker’s car came around the corner and his lights veered off the road, crossing in front of me.

“I thought the driver had gone down a farm track, but I found the vehicle had gone around 180 degrees.”

Collision investigator PC Andrew Hill said he found no visible defects on Mr Stryker’s vehicle which could have contributed to the collision and evidence from marks on the road indicated that the car had spun out of control.

He said: “The vehicle sustained substantial damage. It appeared to have struck the tree at a height similar to the grass verge and then slid down.”

PC Hill said Mr Stryker failed to negotiate the bend, and the mass of the vehicle combined with the solidness of the tree meant it collided with “considerable force”.

Recording a verdict of accidental death by severe head injury, West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose said: “This is a very tragic case. Mr Stryker appears to have over-reacted to something which caused him to lose control of the vehicle.

“There’s no evidence that he exceeded the speed limit or drove in a reckless manner.

“It wasn’t irresponsible driving. It was just unfortunate.