Dad died near Hanmer on test run of daughter's car

Published date: 13 December 2013 |
Published by: Jonathan Grieve
Read more articles by Jonathan Grieve


A MAN died in a road collision after taking his daughter’s car for a drive to make sure it was working properly.

Derek Frank Hopley, 71, died at the scene of the collision on May 15 after his car was hit side on when pulling out of a junction onto the A539 near Hanmer, between Whitchurch and Wrexham.

Mr Hopley, a retired farmer from Welshampton, Shropshire, had gone for a drive without telling his daughter Emma or wife Cathryn he was going out.

Emma Hopley told a inquest at Wrexham yesterday she had been having problems with her Suzuki Alto and that her dad had been making sure it was working properly.

She added it was not unusual for him to take the car out without telling anyone.

Mr Hopley had been pulling out of a junction onto the A539 to turn right when his car was hit by a Mini driven by nurse Rowena Bradford.

Miss Bradford, of Heathwood Road, Whitchurch, left work at about 8.40pm and was driving to her cousin’s house, a route she had taken four nights a week for the last five years.

She said that the roads were quiet on the night of the collision and added that she saw only two or three other cars.

Miss Bradford saw a 4x4 with a small car in front of it as she approached the junction at what she said was “60mph or a little bit less”.

She added: “The car was approaching the junction at a speed like it was getting ready to stop but it just kept going. I just thought it was approaching the junction like anyone would.

“There was nothing to give me any cause for concern.”

According to Miss Bradford, the car, driven by Mr Hopley, who was born in Wem, pulled out in front of her.

She said: “I had a split second so I slammed my foot on the brake and I tried to get my car to go across into the other lane but it was too quick.”

An investigation by North Wales Police into the crash found Miss Bradford was travelling at 40mph at the point of impact on a road which has a 60mph limit and could have done little to avoid the collision.

The investigation also found that both drivers had been using their lights and Mr Hopley had been indicating to turn right before the crash.

Miss Bradford suffered a broken right ankle consistent with heavy braking in the collision, as well as cracked ribs.

Despite her injuries, Miss Bradford got out of her car with the intention of helping Mr Hopley but was unable to assist.

Catherine Edwards, who was driving behind Mr Hopley when he pulled out of the junction and had been following him for a short while, said there was nothing alarming about his driving prior to the accident.

Mrs Edwards added Mr Hopley had been travelling at about 20mph to 25mph before slowing to between five and 10mph when approaching the junction.

She said: “I heard the screech of tyres and then it was like 10 guns going off with a bang.”

A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Hopley died from multiple injuries.

Returning a conclusion of accidental death, North Wales (East and Central) coroner John Gittins said: “Unfortunately despite being familiar with the road, there appears to have been a momentary lapse of concentration with tragic consequences.”

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