Hailsham mum died after head on collision with coach

Flowers at the scene of the collision
Flowers at the scene of the collision

A ‘lovely and bubbly’ mother-of-two died after the Mini she was driving was involved in a head-on collision with a coach, an inquest has heard.

Catherine MacFadyen was driving southbound along Wartling Road, Pevensey, on the morning of Tuesday March 4 when her vehicle crashed into a coach travelling in the opposite direction at around 7.35am.

The 58-year-old GP surgery practice manager, who lived in Boreham Street, Hailsham, was pronounced dead at the scene.

An inquest held at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday July 24 heard how Catherine died of multiple injuries, including two fractured legs, a small brain hemorrhage and bruising consistent with seatbelt injuries.

Matthew Guy, the driver of the coach involved, told the inquest how he had performed all the necessary checks on his vehicle before setting off from Polegate to pick up some school children. He was travelling at 30 miles per hour as he approached the bend in the road.

He said: “The weather was bright, sunny and dry. I had my visor down but visibility was fine. I was just approaching the bend when within a split second, the car was head on. My bus was within the white line. I had 1.2 seconds to react - there was nothing I could have done.”

Mr Guy’s account was backed up by witnesses, including Sarah Tidmarsh who was travelling in front of the Mini. She told the inquest: “I had negotiated the bend and was parallel to the bus when my attention was drawn to my rear view mirror, where I could see the Mini veering across the road.

“Looking in my driver side mirror, I could clearly see it had veered over to the other side.”

Mrs Tidmarsh and a second witness, Roger Tomlinson, told the inquest how Mr Guy was in a state of shock after the incident but was very concerned about the other driver’s welfare. He also told them at the time that ‘the car came out of nowhere, there was nothing I could do’.

PC Stuart Medlycott, of the Sussex Police Forensic Collision Investigation and Reconstruction Unit, told how the collision happened fully in the northbound lane - the direction in which the coach was travelling - and that Mr Guy had made an effort to swerve left to avoid the oncoming car.

While the FCIRU was not able to determine what caused Catherine to veer into the wrong lane, they were able to rule out reasons including alcohol or drug influence, excessive braking and distractions as there was evidence her mobile phones were in her handbag.

Catherine was familiar with the road and there is evidence to suggest she was travelling between 20 and 30 miles per hour and that she was steering up until the moment of impact, ruling out the possibility she lost consciousness before the collision.

The coroner recorded a conclusion based on a balance of probablilies of death as a result of an accident.