‘State of road contributed to loss of control in fatal crash’

Leanne Gower
Leanne Gower

A 21-year-old woman died in a crash on a notoriously dangerous stretch of road that had been identified as a ‘skid risk’ nine months earlier, an inquest heard.

Leanne Gower, aged 21, was a passenger in a Ford Puma being driven by her best friend, Rebecca Turner, on the A508 near Stoke Bruerne, on May 26 when it was involved in a collision with a Ford Fusion travelling in the opposite direction.

An inquest at Northampton General Hospital heard the rear end of Ms Turner’s vehicle was seen to “wobble” before the car slid sideways into the opposite carriageway as she approached a bend in the road. Miss Gower, who lived in Buckingham and worked at DLC in Brackley, died as a result of a head injury she suffered in the crash.

John Underwood, of the Northamptonshire Police Collision Investigation Team, said the road had been skid-tested in September 2013 and found to be in a “poor” condition.

Mr Underwood said the road had not been considered a priority for resurfacing as there had only be one reported serious injury crash on the road in the past three years.

However, he revealed there had been more than 20 “damage only” crashes reported to police in the past three years, including 12 between January and June this year.He concluded the crash had occurred due to “driver error” but stated the condition of the road surface had contributed to the loss of control of the vehicle.

He said that since the fatal collision, the road had been “retextured”, markings had been renewed and vegetation on the bend had been removed.

In a statement read to the inquest, Ms Gower’s father, Philip Gower, said his family believed the crash was a “tragic accident”.

Assistant coroner Hassan Shah, recording a narrative verdict, said he would be writing a letter to the person responsible for the policy of not using ‘damage only’ statistics when deciding whether a road needed to be resurfaced.