A POPULAR young woman with “a heart of gold” died in a head-on car crash with a bus as she travelled to work, an inquest heard.
Nikola Shelley Jones, of Tan y Bryn, Mynydd Isa, was killed after the green Citroen Saxo vehicle she was driving was involved in a collision with a single decker bus on the B4500 between Pontfadog and Chirk on December 15 last year.
An inquest into her death held yesterday at Wrexham heard Miss Jones, 24, overtook two vehicles, shortly before the collision on the opposite side of the road to which she was meant to be driving.
It also heard she was travelling with an under-flated rear tyre on the journey from Llangollen to Wrexham.
During the inquest, Miss Jones’ mother Christine Jones spoke affectionately about her fun-loving daughter.
She said: “She was very bubbly and very outgoing. She would help anybody. She had a heart of gold.”
Miss Jones, who had been driving since she was 17, worked at the Wrexham branch of the Dane Motor Company.
On the night of December 14 last year Miss Jones stayed at her boyfriend Sebastian Gibourg’s home in the Llangollen area.
The following morning she was due to start work at 8am and Mr Gibourg said she left at 7.25am.
Witness Joyce McCamley said she recalled travelling at just under 40mph when Miss Jones overtook her and another vehicle “at quite a pace”.
Within moments she became aware a collision had taken place involving a bus and the vehicle.
She said: “As I approached the next bend there was debris across the road and a bus down a bank.”
Fiona Salomonson told the inquest she was driving towards Chirk Hospital when she was also overtaken by Miss Jones and did not believe there was time to pull back into the correct side of the road due to her passing two cars.
Mrs Salomonson said: “There was a big flash of lights and then I saw the bus going down into the bank.”
Miss Jones was declared dead at the scene at 8.21am, with post-mortem reports by Dr Pauline Dowling showing significant injuries including a skull fracture.
Trevor Edwards, the driver of the bus, said he was heading to pick up children going to Ysgol Dinas Bran, Llangollen.
He told the inquest he slowed to about 25mph to 30mph as he came up to the first of two bends and saw headlights approaching on his side of the road about 50 metres away.
He said: “As soon as I saw those headlights I knew something was wrong.”
Mr Edwards said he has found it difficult to return to work permanently following the fatal collision.
Acting North-East Wales Coroner John Gittins said it appeared Mr Edwards could not have done any more to avoid the collision, a view which Miss Jones’ father Andrew told the inquest he shared.
Gary Roberts, a forensic vehicle examiner, described the rear offside tyre of Miss Jones’ vehicle as being “significantly under-flated” and said he believed it may have had a bearing on the vehicle’s loss of control at the time of collision.
Mr Gittins recorded a verdict of accidental death, with the cause being the head injury sustained by Miss Jones.
He said Miss Jones came across as a “very conscientious young lady” who was clearly keen to arrive in work before 8am but had limited time to achieve this.
Mr Gittins said: “It appears she was travelling quicker than perhaps would have been sensible.”
Calling for the family to celebrate the “wonderful memories of Nikola” and expressing his condolences to them, Mr Gittins said this accident and others he had come across reinforced the need for everyone to have fully inflated tyres.
He said: “The reality of what we must learn from the accident is the importance of properly inflated tyres. It seems we tend to under-estimate such an important feature.”
Speaking after the inquest, Miss Jones’ parents Andrew and Christine said they accepted the findings of the inquest.
They said: “Nikola is sadly missed.We endorse what has been said regarding Mr Edwards and do not hold him responsible.”
Miss Jones left several other close family members, including brother Philip and grandfather Iori.