Inquest told Northamptonshire road where man died was ‘sub-standard’

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The fiancée of a 34-year-old Daventry man who died in a car crash has heard at his inquest this week that the road at the accident site was ‘sub-standard’.

Tracey Wilding was due to marry Jamie Collins, formerly of Apollo Close, Daventry, just a few months before he suffered a fatal head injury in a crash on the A361 close to the Newnham/Staverton crossroads.

An inquest at Northampton General Hospital heard yesterday, Wednesday, that on January 18 Mr Collins was driving his 16-year-old daughter Skye to her part-time job at a pub in Badby when he lost control of his vehicle before a bend in the road.

Giving evidence, Thomas Stilgoe, the driver of the Volkswagen Transporter van that was involved in the collision with Mr Collin’s Volkswagen Golf, said there was nothing he could have done to avoid colliding with the car.

Mr Stilgoe said as he approached the corner the car appeared to have “lost the back end” and was sideways on when it hit his vehicle.

Mr Collins’ daughter suffered a number of serious injuries as a result of the crash, including a fractured leg, pelvis, broken ribs, punctured lung and a fractured skull that has left her suffering double vision.

In a statement read to the inquest, Skye, who was in hospital for five weeks, said she had no memory of the crash or of any events in the week leading up to it.

Mr Stilgoe’s girlfriend, a passenger in his van, suffered two fractures to her spine and was in hospital for 11 days.

Giving evidence, Karl Piper, of Northampton Highways department, said the A361 had been identified as “sub-standard” in December 2013.

Mr Piper said the road was identified as a priority and, last month, the road was resurfaced to reduce the “skid risk” for vehicles.

He said the highways team had also cut back vegetation near the scene of the crash and cleared a ditch.

PC Brian Johnson, a collision investigator, said: “In my opinion it’s possible Mr Collins took emergency evasive action because of something like an animal or a bird and this caused him to lose control.”

Mr Johnson said Mr Collins may also have been distracted by something in his vehicle or may have suffered a medical episode. He said he did not believe the road surface was a cause of the crash.

But Mr Collins’ fiancée, who he was due to marry in July, said she didn’t think the road condition had helped prevent the crash. She said: “Why is it “advised” to be 40mph round the bend when it is 50mph. Why not just make the speed limit 40mph?”

County coroner Anne Pember recorded a verdict of accidental death.