‘Medical episode’ led to fatal crash

Flax Bourton Coroners Court.

Flax Bourton Coroners Court. - Credit: Archant

A Worle man and his wife died after he suffered from a ‘medical episode’ while driving and crashed his car into a wall close to their house, an inquest heard.

Raymond Hayward, aged 81, was driving his Land Rover Freelander in Pine Hill while his wife Jean, aged 78, was sat in the passenger seat just after 8pm on August 8, 2015, Flax Bourton Coroners Court was told this week.

However, Mr Hayward’s aorta, in his heart, was found to have ruptured while he was at the wheel of the car and as a result, his car ‘launched’ into the wall of a nearby property.

Both Mr and Mrs Hayward were pronounced dead at the scene.

The court heard that forensic pathologist Amanda Jeffrey had found Mr Hayward’s aorta to be extremely dilated during his post-mortem examination.

She told the court: “These things often occur without anyone knowing anything about it and his (Mr Hayward’s) was massively dilated.

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“I suspect he was unaware of it. It is rare to know about it until it is causing a problem.”

The court also heard from PC Julian Chambers, a forensic collision investigator for Avon and Somerset Constabulary, who said Mr Hayward had not attempted to brake before the collision took place.

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PC Chambers told the court: “The road was in good order and there were no contaminants. The weather was a pleasant August evening and it was dry.

“The vehicle had failed to negotiate the bend at the top (of Pine Hill), which is almost a right angle.

“It did not make the bend and launched from the pavement into the hedge and nosedived into the side of the house.

“There was nothing to suggest he had braked. It is all consistent with someone who has had a medical episode and is not in control of themselves and the vehicle.

“In some way he (Mr Hayward) would have been incapacitated to produce that sort of effect (so) the medical episode is a consistent scenario.”

Assistant coroner Dr Peter Harrowing said that although Dr Jeffrey could not determine from her examination whether Mr Hayward’s aorta had ruptured before or after the collision, he felt that Mr Hayward had fallen unwell before the collision ‘on the balance of probability’.

Dr Harrowing recorded Mr Hayward’s death as one due to natural causes, while Mrs Hayward’s death had resulted from a road traffic collision.

Dr Harrowing told the court: “He (Mr Hayward) was the driver of the vehicle and failed to negotiate a bend, and the vehicle came to rest in the wall of the house.

“On the balance of probability, it is my conclusion that the rupture of the aorta occurred before the collision with the house and his death was one of natural causes.”

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