Daughter says mother ‘took driving seriously’

Mary Rouse pictured in June 2003.
Mary Rouse pictured in June 2003.

The daughter of a 79-year-old stalwart of the community who died in January described the car crash which killed her as ‘inexplicable’, during an inquest this week.

At around 4.30pm on Saturday, January 5 this year, the Suzuki Jimny driven by Mary Rouse from Greatworth, came off the road between Farthinghoe and Marston St Lawrence and struck a tree.

Passers-by tried to help in vain and paramedics were unable to resuscitate her. She was declared dead at the scene.

During an inquest at Northampton General Hospital on Wednesday, collision investigators said there was no evidence any other cars were involved.

Post mortem toxicology reports also showed Mrs Rouse had a low level of blood sugar. Collision investigator PC Nathan Gallon concluded that, based on the available evidence, the most likely cause of the accident was inattention, carelessness or fatigue on behalf of Mrs Rouse after an 80-mile drive following lunch with relatives in Twickenham.

But her daughter, Ruth, who attended the inquest, said the conclusion was a ‘bitter pill’ and described her mother as a conscientious driver who, wary of her age, had become a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

She added: “While I have to accept the fact this is an inexplicable accident I do not readily accept the conclusions of the collision investigation team.”

She also provided a statement from Jean Smith who regularly took lifts with her mother on outings or on visits to the hospital. She described Mrs Rouse as a ‘competent and confident driver, not given to take any risks of any sort,’ who was very familiar with the stretch of road where she had the accident.

Miss Rouse added: “My mother took the responsibility of driving very seriously and when she moved to Banbury some 10 years ago she approached Banbury Advanced Motorists (BAM), explaining she was a full member of the IAM having been trained and having passed the Advanced Motorists Test with another group. She asked BAM if they would take her out on a refresher check to ascertain she was still a competent driver, notwithstanding she was approaching 80 years of age.”

A statement from the chairman of BAM said Mrs Rouse was a ‘spry and alert driver’ and that it was obvious she had lost little of her advance driving skills.

A letter from her GP also confirmed there was no history of low glucose levels and Mrs Rouse was not diabetic.

Her daughter said she was as ‘fit as a fiddle’ and had worked up until the age of 77.

Coroner Anne Pember recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Ruth Rouse’s tribute to mum

“She was an indiviual who aspired to be more, not want more. She was very thoughtful about her actions and their effect on others, and road safety was an issue utmost in her mind hence her membersip with the IAM. I remember her buying bicycle lights for the paper boy in her village who she observed had no lights.”

Mrs Rouse had also raised £30,000 for the Woodgreen Animal Shelter.