Newcastle OAP died after crashing into lorry, inquest hears
AN 80-YEAR-OLD may have been taken seriously-ill behind the wheel of her car just seconds before she ploughed into a lorry at 50mph.
Witnesses told how Audrey Dickinson crashed her silver Citroen C3 car into the back of the HGV 'at speed' after earlier clipping the side of a car.
The pensioner suffered multiple injuries in the crash in Shelton New Road, in Cliff Vale, in October last year.
But a post-mortem examination showed Mrs Dickinson could have suffered a ruptured artery just before the crash, which caused her to lose control.
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Now North Staffordshire coroner Ian Smith recorded an open verdict after failing to establish exactly what caused the fatal crash.
The inquest heard Mrs Dickinson, of Priory Road, Newcastle, had been driving to Hanley when she had two accidents in Shelton New Road.
The mother-of-four was declared dead at the scene near the junction with Brick Kiln Lane.
Van driver Ashley Davey, of May Bank, who saw the crash, said: "I saw a car coming very fast and with the visibility I had I saw it sweep across my front windscreen and into the back of the lorry.
"There was no sign of braking from the car, or trying to manoeuvre out of the way. I jumped out of my van and ran to the vehicle. It was very shocking really and the old lady was not breathing – she looked very pale."
Off-duty police officer Mark Hale saw the crash and tried to resuscitate the driver.
He said: "There was steam coming from the engine and extensive damage to the front and roof of the car.
"The driver was not moving and was unconscious. I could no longer feel a pulse in her neck.
"I started chest compressions, but soon realised that there was little I could do."
Experts have been unable to establish when Mrs Dickinson suffered her ruptured artery.
Pathologist Besim Latifaj said: "I cannot exclude that she had the rupture and then crashed.
"It was the rupture that would have killed her despite the multiple injuries."
Mrs Dickinson's daughter told the inquest that she had no explanation for the manner of her mother's driving.
Anne Dickinson, of Priory Road, said: "The driving actions seemed odd and completely out of character for my mother.
"She was always very careful and very slow when driving.
"She would never have driven at these speeds."
Delivering his verdict, Mr Smith said: "There was nothing to explain why she had driven as she did and an episode of unexpected ill health cannot be ruled out.
"With the ruptured aorta you would lose blood from the heart and head very rapidly and you are going to lose control of that vehicle."