THE director of a clothing business was crushed to death by a tree uprooted as Storm Ciara battered Hampshire, an inquest has heard.

Kenneth Ronald Macartney, 58, was driving his silver Mercedes on the A33 towards his home in Popham Court Road, Micheldever, when the freak accident occurred close to the junction with Duke Street just before 4pm.

He had left work at Pavilion Clothing, in The Square, Winchester, driving through torrential rain and high winds. A weather station at Kings Worthy recorded wind speeds of up to 38.7mph around the time of the incident.

Eyewitness David Edwards, a control room manager for South Central Ambulance Service, said that the conditions were “horrendous because of the wind”, adding: “It was hurricane like, torrential rain and wind. The visibility was very bad, and the road surfaces were saturated”.

Mr Edwards, who has been a paramedic for 20 years, continued: “I saw a large oak tree which was leaning towards the centre of the road.”

The statement read by coroner Jason Pegg added: “This large oak tree came down slowly, as it did so he could see a car travelling towards him.

“The next thing he saw was the car underneath the tree.”

No evidence about the ownership of the tree or the safety of it was given during the inquest.

A post mortem was carried out by Dr Adnan Al-Badri following Mr Macartney’s death, which was said that the prominent member of the Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) “would have died instantaneously”.

Mr Macartney had glass shards in his face and hands. The cause of death was given as severe crush injuries to the head, chest and abdomen.

Dr Al-Badri also said that toxicology reports found that Mr Macartney did not have any alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of his death.

The inquest at Winchester Coroner’s Court found that he died an accidental death.

Coroner Mr Pegg said: “Things were out of the ordinary it seems to me. This part of the country was being ravaged by Storm Ciara.

“A combination of persistent rain and softened soil and winds caused the tree to topple and fall. It is a tragic series of events and timing of events that Mr Macartney was going past that tree when it was uprooted and fell onto the A33.”

Previously paying tribute Mr Macartney’s family said: “Ken was born in Belfast in 1961. He moved to England when he was 18 and pursued a career in retail.

“He married in 2000 and has a wife Mandy and step daughter Laura.

“He is the owner of Pavilion a clothes shop in Winchester and was a prominent member of the Winchester Business Improvement District (BID).

“He was proud of Winchester, where he lived happily for 25 years.

“He was passionate about his family, dogs, football and chocolate and he will be sorely missed by everybody that knew and loved him.”