Crash tragedy on eve of wedding

A GRIEVING husband has told how his wife was killed in a tragic head-on crash after being distracted by a small spider - on the day before her son's wedding.

A GRIEVING husband has told how his wife was killed in a tragic head-on crash after being distracted by a small spider - on the day before her son's wedding.

Brenda Sharpe had just attended the final rehearsal of her only child's marriage ceremony, in Theberton, when the accident happened.

Minutes after driving her car away from the church where the service would take place the following afternoon, Mrs Sharpe spotted the spider climbing down between the sun visors in her Peugeot 106.

At that moment she veered across the road into the path of a 53-seater coach on its way to pick up children from local schools, her inquest at Lowestoft County Court was told yesterday.

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Mrs Sharpe, 67, of Judith Avenue, in Knodishall, near Saxmundham, died from multiple injuries in the accident, which happened at about 2.25pm on September 29.

Last night, speaking from his Knodishall home, her husband Alan Sharpe told of the heart-rending decision he, his son Roy, 29, and bride Kristen, 25, had to take before going through with the wedding.

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He said: “Roy and Kristen said they didn't want it to go ahead but I said it had to.

“There was no way it couldn't because so much work had gone into it. Kristen had family over from America and Brenda would have wanted it to go ahead.

“We got through the day. We grinned and beared it and were glad when it was all over. It was difficult for Roy because he wanted to call it all off but I said 'no way'.

“They had wanted to get married for long time and how can you arrange something like that again?”

Mr Sharpe said around 70 guests attended the wedding, which was marked with a two-minute silence before the ceremony and followed by a reception at Theberton Village Hall.

“I wanted to have the silence to remember Brenda but apart from that everything else went ahead as usual,” said Mr Sharpe.

The pensioner, who works part time as an odd-job man, said both his wife and Kristen's mother Aileen Havice had a fear of spiders.

“Brenda didn't like them and neither did Kristen's mother,” he said.

“Somehow the spider got on to the front windscreen. I used to take wood in the back of the car and I reckon that's how it got in there.”

Mr Sharpe, who had been married to his wife for more than 30 years, remembered her as a “jolly” woman “who would do anything for anyone”.

He said: “She was always making friends and would make conversation with anyone, no matter who it was.

“She knew more or less everybody around here. She would help anybody, especially if you needed something altering with a needle and cotton.

“You would never see us apart except from when I was at work.”

Yesterday, the inquest was told Mrs Sharpe had been at St Peter's Church at Theberton when she realised the flower girl's dress was too long and decided to make the fateful six-mile journey home to pick up some needle and thread.

She was accompanied by Ms Havice, who had travelled from Pennsylvania, USA for the wedding. She was not seriously hurt in the crash and was released from Ipswich Hospital on the night of the accident.

In a written statement, Ms Havice said: “We had been driving for about three minutes when we both saw a small spider coming down a web between the two visors. It was about the size of a pinky finger nail.

“Brenda was calm and not panicking, but she reached out as if to grab the thread. We were both concentrating on the spider and then there was a huge crash; then nothing. It was only seconds from the time we both saw the spider until the crash. It was just a terrible, terrible accident.”

The crash happened on the B1122 heading out of Theberton and Frederick Keen, who was driver the Belle coaches Scania vehicle, described how he saw the Peugeot heading straight for him.

“It was almost entirely on my side of the road and it didn't deviate,” Mr Keen said in a statement.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said: “Clearly what we have here is a terrible tragedy on what should have been the build-up to a happy occasion for both families. The circumstances are very sad indeed.”

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