19-year-old Girl Burned to Death in Car Crash
Jan 30,2014 0 Comments
The inquest in Crawley, West Sussex, heard how Miss Jones had been at her boyfriend’s family home for his mother’s birthday celebration and had been planning a holiday with him.
However, the pair then allegedly had an argument after she told him about plans to meet up with friend Kayleigh Smith-Oakley, to get her nails done.
The crash happened a short time later after Miss Jones pulled away from a set of traffic lights.
Her car veered off the road and hit a tree side-on with such force that the two sides of the vehicle were almost touching. The fuel lines then ruptured and the leaking petrol caught fire.
Miss Smith-Oakley said they could go for a drink later on but whenever she tried to call Lauren after that the phone would be put down.
Mr Kendall said: ‘You say you had a lovely day together and had no arguments.
‘The evidence we will hear of phone calls and text messages was that you had a bit of a disagreement about the holiday that day.’
Miss Jones’ boyfriend replied: ‘Not that I know of. We joked about how many camels we could sell each other for, just joking around.’
The coroner asked again: ‘But you don’t remember having an argument about her having her nails done that day?’
‘No,’ said the witness.
Mr Kendall then said: ‘The police log shows a text message to Kayleigh earlier in the day, at nearly 1pm, saying: “Gareth has got the major hump with me”, adding that just before her crash Lauren had texted Kayleigh to say: “If Gaz messages, you will ignore it”.’
The last message was sent at 4.02pm. By 4.05pm her car was burning and other drivers were calling the emergency services.
Driver Angela Wells was driving on the road at the time and told the inquest that after leaving some traffic lights she had seen a car some distance ahead, which she later discovered to be Miss Jones, and that they had both, in turn, been overtaken by an Audi travelling at speed.
‘I remember it going past me quite fast. I saw it pass Lauren’s car way ahead,’ she said.
‘I must have looked away and the next thing I’m level with her car which is in the trees, on fire.’
She dialled 999 to report the incident and was told not to approach the stricken vehicle.
Ronald Tofts then arrived in his Jeep and together with a trucker and other drivers they tried to get into the Ford.
He said: ‘Initially I couldn’t see fire underneath the car. The fire was on the verge but certainly by the time I had got to it, it (the fire) had tracked to the car.
‘I tried to hit the window. I couldn’t really see if there was anybody in there or not. Somebody else came round the bank and said yes, there’s somebody in it.
He said he realised he had to try to help but he was only dressed in a tee-shirt and shorts and by that point the fire was ‘too powerful, unbelievable’.
Pc Christopher Harrison, a forensic collision investigator for Sussex Police, said the very heavy impact with the tree had led to a v-shape indentation in the passenger side, of 80 to 90 per cent of the body’s width.
The only tyre to survive the crash and fire was just over half the recommended inflation pressure but the officer said he could not rule out if this was as a result of the force of the crash.
He concluded Lauren had lost control exiting a sweeping right-hand bend while travelling at about the 70mph speed limit. She had attempted to correct the steering and spun off the road.
A pathologist concluded the young driver, from Hascombe, Surrey, had died of extensive burn injuries.
Mr Kendall, the assistant coroner for West Sussex, said at the hearing in Crawley, West Sussex: ‘We cannot be absolutely sure of the precise reason why she left the road.
‘I do accept the evidence given by Mr Standing and Miss Smith-Oakley that Lauren was a sensible driver and there’s no evidence to suggest that she texted or telephoned or answered a call on her phone while she was driving at speed.
‘I think the inference was the text was sent while she was waiting at the traffic lights and didn’t contribute to her leaving the road.’
He recorded a verdict of accidental death.