A CORONER has described a collision in Flintshire involving elderly car passengers as a double death tragedy.
An inquest in Flint yesterday heard that an elderly driver lost control of his car as he collapsed and later died.
It resulted in a collision which led to the death of an elderly passenger in another vehicle.
North Wales football legend Ian Rush’s aunt, Joan Rush, 83, died five days after the Renault Clio she was travelling in was in collision with a Mercedes being driven by fellow pensioner Hugh Griffiths, 79, on the A548 in Mostyn on the morning of June 15 last year.
Mr Griffiths, landlord of the Crown Inn in Ffynnongroyw, was travelling in the Flint direction while Mrs Rush was being driven by her daughter Jean Hough towards Prestatyn when the collision occurred.
Mrs Hough recalled the moment the other vehicle came over to her side of the road.
“I remember coming to this bend and then this car just came out of nowhere,” she said.
Such was the speed of the crash that Mrs Hough said she could not remember if she had time to put her foot on the brakes in a bid to avert the collision.
Mrs Hough, whose husband Les was the front seat passenger in the car, said she always observed speed limits and was driving at about 38mph in a 40mph zone on a route she was very familiar with.
Mrs Hough referred to her immediate reaction to the accident. “I’m trying to open my door and I’m pushing and pushing it and my mum was in the back,” she said.
“I asked her if she was all right.
“She said, ‘what happened?’ and I said we have got to get out.”
Mrs Hough remembered both herself and her mother crying following the accident as they called out for people to stop to help.
Mrs Rush was airlifted to Glan Clwyd Hospital and transferred to the intensive care ward after sustaining a sternum fracture with medical evidence of rib breakages, pneumonia and emphezema.
Her condition deteriorated in the following few days and she was pronounced dead on June 20.
Kathleen Davies, of Fynnongroyw, was travelling with her friend Mr Griffiths when the collision occurred.
She said she had noticed Mr Griffiths was suffering tiredness in the final weeks of his life but did not have cause for alarm as they travelled together.
She recalled Mr Griffiths’ head suddenly slumping on his chest while he remained at the wheel and the car heading across the road towards the other vehicle near the Lletty Hotel, Mostyn.
“It was no fault of the other car. They stood no chance,” she said.
At the scene Mr Griffiths stopped breathing several times and was later pronounced dead.
Police investigations showed neither vehicle had defects that could have caused the collision and they had not exceeded the speed limit.
Mr Griffiths’ tyres were below the recommended pressure, but this factor was not considered to have been a cause of the collision. There was “substantial impact” to the front corners of both vehicles.
Mr Griffiths’ car had completely crossed the road and black marks were found on the road.
Recording a verdict of accidental death by pneumonia caused by chest trauma and emphezema on the lungs, North East Wales deputy coroner John Gittins told Mrs Hough: “I hope there has been no situation where you have felt guilt over this. The evidence shows very clearly you could not have avoided this.
“The loss of your mother under any circumstances would be very tragic.
“I am sure that it’s exacerbated by the fact you were involved in this incident.”
Mr Gittins also expressed his sympathy to the family of Mr Griffiths and described the double death as “tragic”.
There will not be an inquest following Mr Griffiths’ death because his death was a result of cardiac arrest was by natural causes.