Suffolk mother-of-two was hit by car that skidded on ice, inquest hears
PUBLISHED: 18:01 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:01 17 June 2019
A 41-year-old jogger was killed after being struck by a car after it skidded on ice on a road which had been left untreated by a gritting lorry in error, an inquest has heard.
Mother-of-two, Claire Taylor, was heading home from a run along the B1061 near Great Bradley, Haverhill, when she was struck by a car which sent her 35 metres through the air before landing in an adjacent field.
An inquest investigating the circumstances surrounding her death took place at Suffolk Coroner's Court today (July 17).
The court heard how motorist Chantel Macbain, of Shardlow Close, Haverhill, who was cleared of death by dangerous driving by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court in September 2018, told the emergency services she had "hit a jogger" after "skidding on ice".
A report submitted to the court by Keir Highways, a company contracted by Suffolk County Council to maintain roads during winter, concluded that the night before the incident, workers did not fully grit the road "in error".
Mike Thompson, general manager of Kier Highways, said that the gritting vehicle which was scheduled to treat the B1061 was being driven by an "inexperienced" driver who was employed on a zero-hour contact to cover the shift because of staff shortages over the Christmas period.
The driver had originally believed that he would be navigating but, because he was the only person who had the correct qualifications to drive the lorry, he took the wheel for the first time on a route he was "unfamiliar with" accompanied by a more experienced navigator.
The driver could not find the route maps inside the gritting lorry and after asking a more senior member of staff where the map was, the pair were given hand written instructions to follow, based on the memory of a more experienced driver.
While driving along the B1061, the pair became confused with the instructions which said to turn around at 'a bridge'. They decided to turn at what they believed to be the right point, leaving 6.9km of road untreated.
Forensic collision investigator, Pc Jeff Cribb, said that he had seen ice on the road in areas that were shadowed by near-by trees during his investigation following the accident.
Speaking at the inquest, Miss Macbain she said that she was driving at "around 40mph" when a jogger "darted" in front of her to cross the road, however, Pc Cribb said it was "more than likely" that Mrs Taylor had been struck on the lefthand side of the road.
Miss Macbain said that she "slammed" on her brakes before turning the wheel to the right, skidding on ice. She thought she had heard her "windscreen smash" before then "closing" her eyes.
Pc Cribb said he believed it was "extremely unlikely" that the car was travelling directly along the road and that there was no damage to the windscreen of the car which was "clean and clear".
Assistant coroner, Dr Dan Sharpstone, concluded that Mrs Taylor died as the consequence of a road traffic collision that was "caused by a car that skidded on ice".
He said that the risk of the incident was "increased" by the road not being gritted overnight.
He also requested a regulation 28 report for the prevention of future deaths to be carried out by Kier Highways.