Gran, 61, died in head-on crash after husband's 'momentary lapse of concentration'

A 61-year-old care worker tragically died in a crash after picking up her grandchildren from school. Beverley Gill was in the front passenger seat of a Toyota Hilux, being driven by her husband Bernard, when the accident happened near Leek. An inquest heard they were travelling along the A523 Ashbourne Road at Bradnop as they approached a line of queuing traffic.

The vehicle at the front of the queue was waiting to turn right into Beaver Hall Equestrian Centre. Mr Gill didn’t see the oncoming hazard in time. He braked before swerving towards the opposite side of the road.

But in trying to avoid crashing into the rear of the car in front, he inadvertently steered into the path of an oncoming Foden tipper truck. The Foden’s driver had no time to react and the two vehicles collided head on. Mrs Gill, from Hailors Croft, Butterton, died from multiple injuries.

Her husband and their two grandchildren were taken to hospital. Mr Gill, who still has no memory of the seconds leading up to the crash, said they had had a ‘relaxing day’ and were looking forward to spending time with the children. In a statement, the IT manager added: “We had a coffee.

We then went to collect our grandchildren from their school.” The next thing he can remember is the aftermath of the collision on February 26 last year. His wife of more than 40 years was pronounced dead shortly after 4.20pm.

Mr Gill described himself as a very experienced driver who knew the road well. He said he’d been keeping to the 50mph speed limit. Witnesses recalled the traffic slowing to a stop.

The motorist at the back of the queue, in a Vauxhall Insignia, saw the Toyota 4×4 come from behind, ‘swerving’ onto the other side of the road. Others recalled the front ‘dipping’ as it braked sharply. Forensic collision investigator PC Sarah Mulvey said the tipper truck driver, who was travelling within the speed limit, couldn’t have avoided the impact.

His vehicle came to rest with its cab in the hedgerow. The Toyota ‘rolled and rotated’, suffering significant damage. PC Mulvey estimated Mr Gill would have had a range of 300 metres along the stretch of road, giving him 13 seconds to react to the queue ahead.

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The inquest was told he appeared to have a ‘tragic, momentary lapse of concentration’.

Both the Foden and the Toyota were examined afterwards. Despite the Toyota having a corroded brake pipe, this did not contribute to the accident. The Insignia’s brake lights were also found to be working, although it’s not known if they were on at the time.

There was no evidence of any mobile phone use or alcohol intake. North Staffordshire assistant coroner Sarah Murphy concluded Mrs Gill died from a road traffic collision. She told the family: “What this goes to show is that anybody who drives a vehicle can easily have a lapse of concentration and it really doesn’t take very much in order to be involved in a collision.

“Anybody who is a driver could find themselves in the position of Mr Gill.

“I really hope that, as a family, you are able to support each other and move forwards with the rest of your life.”

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