Wife's anguish at crash death

CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM A woman administered first aid to an injured driver after a car accident outside her Norfolk home - unaware her husband lay dead or dying in another car.

CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM

A woman administered first aid to an injured driver after a car accident outside her Norfolk home - unaware her husband lay dead or dying in another car, an inquest heard yesterday.

Tom French, 55, died from multiple injuries he received after a collision with a Ford Fiesta while reversing into the driveway of his home at Ellingham, near Bungay, after he had just popped out to the village shop.

An inquest in Norwich yesterday heard that his widow Sandra French, 44, after hearing there had been an accident outside her home, used first aid skills from her time in St John Ambulance to treat and reassure the Fiesta driver.

She had no idea her husband had also been involved in the accident which happened on the A143 Yarmouth Road in February.

Norwich coroner William Armstrong recorded a verdict of accidental death and expressed his deepest sympathy to Mr French's widow and his family, who attended the inquest, and said it must have been a great shock and terrible experience for Mrs French.

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"She had no idea that her husband was in any way involved. She had devoted herself to looking after other people and then later found out her husband had been killed as a result of this incident."

In a statement which was read at the inquest, Mrs French said after tending to the injured driver of the Fiesta, Darren Mansi, she had looked up and realised her car, which her husband had been driving, was also involved in the collision.

She said: "Oh my God, that's my car."

She had rushed over to the vehicle and tried to check for a pulse on Mr French before she was led away, leaving paramedics to attend to her husband.

A post-mortem examination revealed Mr French died of multiple injuries.

Mr Mansi told the inquest he could not remember anything about the crash but just remembered waking up in hospital.

Another driver, Grant Docherty, told the inquest his Citroen Saxo hit a pole after he took evasive action to avoid the crash scene.

Crash investigator Gary Knevitt said there were no faults on any of the vehicles which could have contributed to the crash. He said it was unclear why the Saxo or the Fiesta drivers failed to see the lights of Mr French's car prior to him reversing and also said it was an "unwise manoeuvre" of Mr French.

He added that there were to be no prosecutions as a result of the crash.

Mr French had worked in the oil and gas industry for 30 years and was training manager for Derrick Services in Yarmouth. He was a practical man who loved DIY, and he leaves a grown-up son and daughter, brothers and sisters and a granddaughter.