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Inquest: Human error caused death of elderly driver on A413
AN elderly woman died after hesitantly pulling out in front of a car carrying a family travelling to LegoLand on the A413, an inquest was told.
Joan Johnson, 83, was pronounced dead after a Volkswagen Golf smashed into the front nearside of her Honda Jazz at 10.15am on May 7.
Nathan Poole said he spotted the Jazz waiting to cross the dual carriageway towards Hyde Heath when it pulled out in front of his Golf.
It was the Aylesbury accountant’s birthday and he was taking his wife and two children to LegoLand for a family day out.
He said: "I saw it in the central reservations...It was either stationary or moving very slowly. I was about 20 yards away when it pulled out.
"I remember saying, ‘what is she doing?’, I swerved as I saw a gap but the car continued moving forward and I collided with the front nearside of the car."
Eye specialist Dr Kaykhosrov Manuchehri told Wednesday’s inquest that Mrs Johnson had restricted vision in her left eye – which could only register movement and had no peripheral vision.
But the Great Missenden resident’s daughter Fiona Ellis was quick to point out that under DVLA guidelines her mother was in a fit state to drive and it was up to the DVLA to approve or rescind her licence.
She said: "She drove cautiously; she only drove on routes she knew well during daylight. She was aware [her eyesight] restricted her a little bit but she compensated for it usually very well."
The widow died from multiple injuries. Stephen Moffat, crash investigator, said the "violent collision" boiled down to human error.
He said: "It’s human error, she failed to notice the car from the left and if she did have any eye deficiency it fits in nicely with that hypothesis.
"There’s a phrase we use, ‘looked but failed to see’, and we all do it. We look, nothing there, look again and ‘where did that come from?’ – it’s because we’re humans, we make mistakes."
Mrs Johnson was an active member of the community in Lee Common, and was involved with the St. John the Baptist Parish Church in the Lee.
In a tribute, her family said: "She was a keen gardener and bridge player, as well as being a wonderful mother and grandmother.
"She was the centre of our hearts and will be greatly missed."
Reaching a conclusion of accidental death, the Buckinghamshire Coroner Richard Hulett said: "Pulling in or across a road and failing to notice something is coming is common place.
"I have experienced cases of it for almost 40 years. It is not exclusive to any group or background.
"The Golf was lawfully travelling at 70mph and when she pulled out it was on the basis she thought the road was clear. The outcome was fatal."
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