Charity director killed by flying debris on A12

A CHARITY worker was killed in a freak accident when a large piece of metal smashed through his car windscreen as his pregnant wife sat alongside him, an inquest has heard.

A CHARITY worker was killed after a freak accident when a large piece of metal smashed through his car windscreen as his pregnant wife sat alongside him, an inquest has heard.

Rene Vargas was driving along the A12 with his wife Katy when a faulty tailgate which had fallen off a Ford transit was then flipped up into the air by another vehicle and into his face.

The 47-year-old, who had two children and was expecting a third, suffered serious head injuries in the accident between the Eight Ash Green and Marks Tey junctions and died three days later.

Essex Coroners’ Court heard yesterday from Mrs Vargas who described the moment the metal struck their Vauxhall Zafira.

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She said she had been looking down at a map at the moment of impact.

Mrs Vargas, who had the couple’s third child after her husband’s death, said: “I did not see anything that happened prior to the accident.

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“The moment I became aware… was when it hit the windscreen.”

Her statement, read out to the court, recalled “an explosion of sound” and yesterday Mrs Vargas added “it was like a gunshot going off”.

When Mrs Vargas, who lives in Colchester, realised what had happened she grabbed the wheel of the car which then crashed into the central reservation.

“I was not aware of anything untoward – I did not see anything. I was looking down,” she added.

Mrs Vargas phoned 999 and almost immediately was helped by another driver and a doctor who was passing.

After the collision in November 2008 police identified the tailgate as coming from a Ford Transit which had been driven by 29-year-old Gareth Jones of Appleton Mews in Colchester.

Mr Jones, who is facing criminal legal proceedings following the accident, attended the inquest but declined to give evidence other than to confirm he was the driver of the van.

Pc Kevin Carter, formerly a traffic investigator with Essex Police, said the other cars which were struck by the tailgate suffered just minor damage.

He said expert evidence showed the hinge of the tailgate had not been securely fastened and over time came loose.

“Prior to the arrival of the police, a number of vehicles had struck the object, one causing it to fly into the air.

“When the object smashed into the windscreen, control was lost and it collided with the central barrier,” he said.

And he added there was “little, if anything” Mr Vargas, who was director of programs for Colchester-based LEPRA Health in Action, could have done to avoid the accident.

Essex Coroner Caroline Beasley Murray recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision.

Mrs Vargas declined to comment afterwards, but speaking after her husband died she paid tribute to him as a “serene and gentle man”.

“Ren� was the most tender father and husband and devoted every possible moment to me and his precious sons, who were the light of his life.

“There are no words to express how we will miss him forever, but we know his love and beautiful smile will always shine in our hearts,” she said.

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