Mystery as woman's actions in run up to death in crash remain unexplained

An inquest into the death of a woman who was killed in a head-on collision with a HGV was unable to clarify what caused her to crash. Carol Taylor, 46, from Bridgwater, travelled southbound in a silver Peugeot 206 on the A370 Bridgwater Road in Lympsham on Monday, May 13. The vehicle had drifted left and right across the carriageway before it was driven across the central reservation island and collided with high reservation curbing.

Mrs Taylor’s car drove directly over the bollards and continued onto the opposite carriageway where it struck the right offside of an oncoming lorry. Mrs Taylor did not survive from her injures and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The A370 in Lympsham where Carol Taylor died in collision between a car and lorry

An inquest, held in Taunton today heard a number of statements to create a timeline and understand the circumstances of her death. Lory driver Colin Oldfield said he was returning to his company’s depot in Weston-super-Mare and drove northbound on the A370 to avoid the long delays on the M5.

“My attention was drawn to a car driving in the opposition direction as it drove straight over the two central bollards, throwing up a cloud of debris and dust as it did so,” he said. “I saw the bollards being thrown up in the air. “I started braking as this car was heading in the path of my HGV.

I also started to manoeuvre my HGV to the nearside curb as thinking this would allow the Peugeot to pass safety. “My initial thought was the driver made a mistake. I continued to move the truck but the Peugeot continued and collided head-on.

“It was a loud bang like an explosion”.

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It was estimated Mr Oldfield had two seconds to respond to the oncoming car. An investigation into the collision found Mr Oldfield reacted “quickly” and took “evasive action” and was cleared of any blame. Other witness statements described the scene as “sunny” and driving conditions were “clear and dry”.

Mrs Taylor’s GP, Dr Cooper of Clarence Park Surgery, said she was an “infrequent” visitor to the surgery and had only seen her once in relation to migraines. He noted she had been diagnosed with epilepsy in 1993 but had only had four seizures in her lifetime, the last being in 1997. Doctor Cooper said: “A letter from a neurologist mentioned she had been diagnosed with epilepsy more than 20 years prior and had been on epilim but was switched to another medication.

“She had not any seizures but was reluctant to stop taking anti-epilepsy medication as she felt it would affect her driving. “The recommendation was her topiramate could be increased as it may have a beneficial effect in relation to the migraines and prevent seizures.” A post-mortem report found no evidence Mrs Taylor had an epileptic attack while driving.

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The circumstances of why Taylor’s vehicle drifted multiple times before driving across the central reservation and into the path of a HGV was extensively investigated by Avon and Somerset Police.

It was found there was no evidence Mrs Taylor attempted to avoid the central island but it was not a “deliberate” action. Mrs Taylor was not intoxicated or on drugs but there were small traces of medication found in her blood. She did not use a mobile phone while driving as it was packed away in her handbag.

Screenshots captured on dashcam also debunked a theory she had fallen asleep at the wheel because she was pictured at an upright position. An examination of Mrs Taylor’s car found no defects and had a valid MOT certificate. Both vehicles involved in the collision were judged to be driving under the speed limit.

The conclusion of the report said: “During the 18 seconds prior, Mrs Taylor drifted left, then right, then left and then right before she struck the island. “She made no attempt to avoid colliding with the reservation island or Oldfield’s vehicle. “Mrs Taylor collided head-on with the HGV driven by Mr Oldfield with a closing speed of 90mph.

Mr Oldfield was unable to avoid the collision.

Mystery as woman's actions in run up to death in crash remain unexplainedThe conclusion of the inquest was held in Taunton.

“At this time, I am unable to provide an answer as to why Mrs Taylor crossed the carriageway and ultimately collided with Mr Oldfield.” Tony Williams, senior coroner for Somerset, explained to Mrs Taylor’s widow the “comprehensive” report explored every possible theory of why she lost control of her car yet could not explain what happened. After reading a number of statements, Mr Williams was able to confirm the cause of death as a result of multiple injures but was unable to determine what caused her vehicle to drive towards the HGV.

“I will record the cause of death as given by pathologist as one of multiple injuries,” he said. “I simply record the death as result of a road traffic collision. “I will note that on the May 13, 2019 on A370 in Lympspham, for a reason that was not identified, Carol Taylor lost control of her motor car, causing it to cross the road and collide with an oncoming lorry.

“As a result, she sustained fatal injuries.”

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Is there a Bridgwater story you would like me to investigate? Get in touch: michael.taylor@reachplc.com, tweet @JournoMikeT or call 01935 709742.    

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