Pick-up driver 'could not have avoided' crash which killed mother, inquest told
A driver who crashed into the back of a family's car, killing a 53-year-old mother, could not have avoided the collision, an inquest heard.
Jacqueline Sampson died after her husband's Citroen C3 Picasso was hit by an Izuzu pick-up truck on the A488 at Colstey Bank, between Bishop's Castle and Clun, on November 20, 2021.
Samuel Windsor, the driver of the pick-up truck, was initially charged with causing death by careless driving. However, the criminal case was later dropped.
Shropshire Coroner's Court was told that collision investigators believe there would not have been enough time for him to react to the "intense" sun and avoid the crash.
Mrs Sampson, who was from Rotherham, was staying in Newcastle-on-Clun at the time, visiting relatives in Shropshire.
An inquest into her death at Shirehall was told the day in question, Mrs Sampson, her husband Glen, mother Ann, son Matthew and his girlfriend Scarlett Mills had been shopping in Newtown.
They were driving back to a family member's home where they were staying in the afternoon when Mrs Sampson's husband spotted a blue Honda in front which had swerved and slowed down.
Mr Sampson also reduced his speed, but his vehicle was hit from behind by the pick-up truck, driven by Mr Windsor. A witness in the Honda said they saw a vehicle "flying" in a rear view mirror.
The Sampson family's Citroen came to rest in foliage. Mrs Sampson, her son and his girlfriend were in the back seats at the time.
In a statement read by Heath Westerman, deputy coroner for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Mrs Sampson's husband said he remembered his wife saying: "What the hell was that?" He said he then remembered his son shouting "My mum!" before shouting for someone to call an ambulance.
While Mr Sampson senior spoke to the ambulance call handler, he held his face against his wife's to try and detect if she was breathing.
Paramedics arrived "really quickly", according to Mr Sampson junior, and emergency crews forced open the door of the car to get to her.
They commenced CPR but nothing could be done to save Mrs Sampson and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
The inquest was told that Mavis Ann Tranter, the driver of the Honda, did not stay at the scene as she "assumed the injuries would be whiplash" and she would not have been able to help. She said she had been at a funeral earlier in the day, and went to the police when she learned there had been a fatality. Mrs Turner said she was "shocked and upset" at finding out what happened.
One of her passengers, Jean Wachala, described seeing a car "flying in the air" before landing in a ditch. She said they felt it was "too dangerous" for them to get out of the car after the crash.
Mr Windsor took to the witness box to give evidence in front of Mrs Sampson's family. He said: "By the time I pulled the (sun) visor and slowed down the crash happened. It was that instantaneous."
He said he didn't see the vehicle in front and that he started to apply the brakes due to the sun.
Describing how the sun affected visibility in front, Mr Windsor said: "It was just white."
His solicitor, Owen Edwards, pointed out that Mr Windsor described it as a "deeply distressing incident" and that Mr Windsor's thoughts "are with the deceased's family".
A 76-page report was prepared by road collision expert David Loat. Calculations made showed the estimated speed of impact would have been between 33mph and 43mph, depending on Mr Windsor's reaction time.
The report said that Mr Windsor's circumstances did not match those of the other drivers, as Mr Sampson was following Mrs Tranter so was aware of her vehicle before it stopped. Mr Windsor was further back and did not see Mr Sampson's car until the collision.
He said the sun was a "significant factor" leading to the crash, and that Mr Sampson "did all he reasonably could have done".
PC Chris Duffner, a collision investigator who went to the scene on the day of the crash and the two days following to understand how the sun affects road users, also gave evidence. He said he did not go against any of the evidence in the report.
Giving his conclusion, Mr Westerman said to the family: "I am satisfied on the evidence that this was a tragic road traffic collision.
"I am truly sorry for your loss. The trauma won't go away but I hope it lessens in time, and you can remember her for the woman that she was."