A WOMAN told how she prayed for a driver after desperately trying to help him when his car lost control and crashed.

Josephine Azadi described the moment she tried to rescue Sheldon Thomas, known as Shellz, after the Volkswagen Golf he was driving smashed into a tree in Parks Road, Oxford, shortly after 5am on May 2.

An inquest at Oxford Coroner's Court yesterday heard Mr Thomas from Saxon Way, Northway, was two and a half times the legal alcohol limit and wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

Assistant coroner Jeremy Chipperfield read a statement from Ms Azadi, who had been in a nightclub in Magdalen Street, with Mr Thomas that evening.

She was a passenger in an Audi travelling near Mr Thomas' car, when she witnessed the crash.

In her statement she said: "The driver's door would not open. The car was smoking.

"Sheldon never responded to me, eventually I got Sheldon out carefully and I stayed with him until the ambulance arrived.

"I was praying for him."

Mr Thomas was taken to hospital but died from multiple injuries.

Blood tests showed he was above the legal alcohol limit for driving.

A police investigation revealed he was also driving at about 50mph in the 20mph road and had not been wearing a seatbelt.

The labourer had been out with friends in Lola Lo nightclub before he left in the hire car with Anthony Pedro, known as Tizzle, in the passenger seat.

Police said CCTV showed two vehicles, the Golf and an Audi, travelling together down St Giles', Banbury Road and into Parks Road where Mr Thomas lost control of the car, and crashed into a lamppost before hitting a tree on the pavement.

Jack Green, a witness who was in the Audi behind said he 'just heard a bang'.

Mr Pedro, who was wearing a seatbelt in the front passenger seat of the Golf, said he had no recollection of getting in the car or of the crash. He was taken to hospital but the extent of his injuries is unknown.

A report by forensic collision investigator PC James Henderson said the Golf first hit a lamppost before rotating around and crashing into a tree.

Mr Thomas' parents Winspere and Caroline said they wanted to express their thanks to family and friends who had 'shown so much support' since their 'beloved' son's death.

They added: "It has been really hard but with their support we are finding the strength to deal with this tragedy.

"Sheldon was loved by everyone who knew him, he would always be there to offer help. He was young, fit and in the prime of his life.

"He had lots to live for. Sheldon is in our hearts and there is not a day goes by that he is not in our thoughts. We love and miss you Sheldon."

Hundreds of friends and family turned out to celebrate Mr Thomas' life at St James' Church in Cowley on May 19.

His funeral featured various hymns and songs before the service was completed in Botley cemetery.

Coroner Mr Chipperfield told the court he accepted the findings of the medical experts and police officers.

He added: "Sheldon was intoxicated, not an enormous amount, but the effects do vary with how familiar a person is with alcohol.

"His cause of death was multiple injuries."

He concluded accidental death and told Mr Thomas' family he was 'very sorry' for his loss.