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Teen died after 'catastrophic collision' with wrong way driver
THE following is the full story of the inquest reported on last week.
A TEENAGE girl was killed after an 89-year-old motorist, an undiagnosed dementia sufferer, drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway and hit the car she was travelling in, an inquest heard.
Charlotte Pitwell, 19, from Booker, a passenger in a car driven by a friend on the A404 Marlow Bypass, died following the accident around midnight on September 4.
Stanley Tomlinson, who was later found to have dementia, survived the accident with minor injuries but died earlier this year of natural causes. Ex-Great Marlow School pupil Charlotte was wearing a seatbelt but was flung onto the opposite side of the road where she was hit by a van.
The Citroen she was travelling in was found by crash investigators on its roof with severe crumpling, windows shattered and gearbox and headlights detached.
She and the driver, Owen Livett, who survived but was badly injured, were wearing their seatbelts.
Coroner Richard Hulett said Charlotte was “effectively catapulted over the barrier” onto the carriageway opposite.
He said: “It was a catastrophic collision in which the Citroen came off by far the worse.”
Charlotte was then hit by a van, driven by Carl Facey.
Mr Hulett said: “In my view he had no chance to prevent inflicting further damage to Charlotte.”
Nicholas Hunt, a forensic pathologist, said: “She could have been rendered unconscious and therefore been unaware of what was happening at an early point in the collision.”
He said she suffered severe multiple injuries.
Mr Tomlinon's daughter Freda Pryce told the hearing he left her house in Tylers Green that night before 11pm to return home to Rupert Avenue, High Wycombe.
She could not understand why he had driven to the A404 because it was not his route home.
Pitwell family lawyer Ken Patterson asked Mrs Pryce: “With the benefit of hindsight, the facts that have emerged, would you agree that it probably wasn't right for your father to be driving?”
She replied: “I had no idea that my father had dementia.
“I had asked him to stop driving because of his age and his reactions were slower. Me and my husband had asked him to stop driving for those reasons. He obviously thought he was capable.”
During a police interview on September 8 Mr Tomlinson was unable to recall how he got to the bypass could not explain why he was there, PC Kay Hobson said.
Medical notes revealed there was no record of any mental or neurological checks and no concerns had been raised before the crash.
For a man of his age, his general health had been good.
Dr Paul Theobald, who became Mr Tomlinson's GP a month after the accident, said tests showed significant confusion and indicated moderate dementia.
Mr Hulett said, though it was unexplained how Mr Tomlinon ended up on the bypass, he appears to have taken a wrong turn at Marlow Hill and become confused and disorientated Witness statements revealed a van had ostensibly seen Mr Tomlinon's car and tried warning motorists.
Mr Hulett said: “The driver didn't stop that collision but may have stopped one or two others.”
Mr Hulett delivered a neutral narrative verdict due to Mr Tomlinon's impairment and dementia.
The Coroner's full Narrative Verdict
Charlotte Eleanor Pitwell
At about midnight on 4th September 2011, Charlotte Eleanor Pitwell was a passenger in a motor car travelling south on the A404 dual carriageway, approaching Little Marlow.
At the same time another car was being driven in the opposite direction but in the same carriageway. The driver of that car was elderly, confused and disorientated and continued driving in the wrong direction on the dual carriageway.
A collision between the two vehicles caused the immediate death of Charlotte Eleanor Pitwell.