Cowbeech driver ‘delayed turn too long’

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A Cowbeech pensioner who died three days after a head-on collision pulled out in front of an oncoming car, an inquest has heard.

The family of Rose Betty Blanshard, of Cowbeech, said she had travelled on the stretch of road on the A264 Colestock crossroads, where the collision occurred on the afternoon of August 21, numerous times and knew it very well.

The 92-year-old, who had recently had a health check to allow her to carry on driving, which she had passed, sustained a series of injuries, including fractured ribs, in the collision. She was cut out of the car by firefighters and airlifted to Kings College Hospital in London but her condition deteriorated and she died three days later.

Lorry driver John McGuigan was travelling behind Mrs Blanshard in a car transporter and said she was driving quite slowly. He said she indicated to turn right and went into a filter lane in the same direction he was going. He said her positioning in the box was not quite right and that when she moved she seemed to be going more straight towards the junction than turning right.

He told the inquest, held last Thursday at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court, that she delayed her turn too long.

Of the manoeuvre he added: “If she had given it a bit of welly she probably would have made it.”

Mrs Blanshard’s Honda Jazz ended up spinning and hitting barriers on the side of the road she had been initially travelling on near a caravan business.

She had collided with a Citroen Saxo being driven by Thomas Erxleben from Groombridge.

The 18-year-old, who had been travelling well within the speed limit, told the inquest he had driven thousands of miles in the car since passing his test.

Mr Erxleben, who had been travelling with three younger passengers, added that Mrs Blanshard pulled out when he was about five to 10 metres away.

Another witness, Helen Jenner, who was travelling behind Mr Erxleben, said Mrs Blanshard’s positioning in the filter lane was ‘slightly poor’ and questioned whether the pensioner had hit the throttle instead of the brake.

Questions were raised at the inquest as to whether the Cowbeech resident had a medical episode that caused the collision or not.

Crash investigator PC Mark Hill, of Sussex Police said tests showed the Citroen Saxo had braked heavily and that there were no mechanical defects on either car.

He said the Honda Jazz had been travelling at around five to 10mph.