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Student died after falling from minibus

PUBLISHED: 05:25 06 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:15 24 February 2010

By James Hore

A 22-year-old student died after she was thrown from a minibus on the A12 just three days before her university graduation.

An inquest in Colchester heard Samantha Howe, of Belle Vue Road, Wivenhoe, was one of six passengers who worked for a recruitment agency and were in a minibus which crashed in wet weather.

By James Hore

A 22-year-old student died after she was thrown from a minibus on the A12 just three days before her university graduation.

An inquest in Colchester heard Samantha Howe, of Belle Vue Road, Wivenhoe, was one of six passengers who worked for a recruitment agency and were in a minibus which crashed in wet weather.

The accident happened on the southbound A12, near Stratford St Mary, shortly before 9pm on July 8.

Recording a verdict yesterday of accidental death, Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray said it had been the “most tragic of accidents”.

The inquest was told Miss Howe, who had not been wearing a seat-belt, had been thrown out of a side window of the van onto the carriageway, but the vehicle then hit her as it slid to a halt.

Miss Howe was taken to Colchester General Hospital, but died of her injuries.

Before the accident, diesel had been leaking from the white Ford minibus, which was driven by Robert Chapman, who had been hired for two days by the Helping Hand recruitment company.

Mr Chapman said he had not been able to call breakdown services to tackle the problem and had been trying to drive everyone home safely in the minibus, which had been hired from the Clacton Auto Centre.

Giving evidence yesterday, Mr Chapman said he had realised something had been wrong because he could smell diesel and had stopped at a garage, where he had found a fuel leak.

Mr Chapman added he had been driving at between 40mph and 45mph when he had he lost control of the minibus.

“I lost control all of a sudden, I could not understand it. The van veered off the road – I believe it turned on its side. I tried to gain control, but there was nothing,” he said.

Mr Chapman added he had checked all the passengers and had seen Miss Howe lying in the road. He had held her hand as they waited for the ambulance to arrive.

David Bukes, of Old Road, Clacton, was one of the passengers. He said in a statement read to the inquest: “Samantha had been thrown from the vehicle through the window.

“I got out to help her and could see she had serious injuries. I ran down the A12 to stop vehicles to call an ambulance.”

Traffic investigator, Pc Michael Small, of Suffolk police, said forensic evidence had been unable to determine whether a damaged rear off-side tyre had been caused by a collision with a roadside barrier or if it had been deflated before the crash.

He added there had been no evidence from the other passengers on board to say the driver had been at fault.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk


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