Mud to blame for fatal crash

Wendy Hartley
Wendy Hartley
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A DEVASTATED husband was told by a coroner that his wife would still be alive had it not been for a muddy road.

William Hartley was left heartbroken after his 63-year-old wife Wendy was killed when he lost control of their car on February 4 this year.

Mrs Hartley, a retired teacher from Bowland Road, Cabus, Garstang, died from multiple injuries in Royal Preston Hospital.

But Preston deputy coroner Simon Jones said had it not been for the mud on the road the accident would not have happened.

He added: “I’m entirely satisfied from the evidence that were it not for the presence of the mud on this carriageway Mrs Hartley would still be with us.

“The problem of mud on rural highways is an issue that perhaps should be taken more seriously than it is. This is truly a tragedy.”

The couple were driving towards Garstang on Blackpool Road when the accident happened.

Their car lost control and crossed to the opposite side of the road and began to spin before colliding with a Suzuki 4x4 coming the other way.

Roy Holden, of Argyle Drive, Poulton, who was driving the 4x4, said Mr Hartley’s car came across the road onto his side in a perfect arc and hit his vehicle with a massive impact.

In October, a judge ruled Mr Holden, 58, was “criminally culpable” in the accident as he was driving the Suzuki untaxed and without an MOT or insurance.

He was given a 20-week jail term suspended for a year. He was also made the subject of a 10-week curfew, given 12 months’ supervision and banned from the road for a year.

Preston coroner’s court heard how the road outside Wyre Bank Farm was “heavily contaminated” with mud, which had become wet and slippery due to rain.

Three other drivers, including the police officer called to the accident, said they too had experienced problems on the same day due to the slippery road.

A statement from PC Michael Burns said: “The mud was so thick in some areas the road could not be seen.”

Carl Smith, proprietor of Wyre Bank Farm said he had employed Peter Parker of Higher Moorfield, Catterall, to move slurry from the farm to a nearby field. Both said they had not noticed the mud on the road.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner said it was inconceivable the mud originated from anywhere other than the farm.