Woman died in crash as husband lost control of car

A PENSIONER tragically died in a car crash after her husband lost control of their vehicle and ploughed into a wall.

Patricia Burford, 77, of Primrose Hill, Fairlight, was in the front passenger seat with her 81-year-old husband, John, when the accident happened in Fairlight Avenue.

An inquest heard on Wednesday that the tragedy may have been caused by Mr Burford suffering from incontinence, but crash investigators from Sussex Police said there was insufficient evidence to prove that this was definitely the case.

Mrs Burford, a retired teaching assistant, sustained numerous rib fractures and a torn liver.

Sidney Haynes, of Fairlight Avenue, said he had just got off the bus when he saw the retired couple’s blue VW Polo go round a sharp right bend on the road and then heard what he called a ‘terrific bang’.

He said: “The car was embedded in a post outside a house. The door was jammed and he (Mr Burford) told me he had an arm injury.

“He tried to release his seat belt but could not.

His wife managed to get out as the lady in the house brought out a chair for her to sit on.”

Katherine Hall, also of Fairlight Avenue, said she had just got out of the shower when she heard the crash.

In a statement, she said: “The car had hit the gate post at the end of my driveway and I ran outside to see if I could assist.

“I heard the driver (Mr Burford) say he uses the road regularly to get to where he lives in Fairlight.”

PC Natalie Brill said Mrs Burford’s husband had crashed the car ‘head-on’ into the wall outside Ms Hall’s house. The accident happened on May 7.

She said: “There was substantial damage to the front end of the vehicle and hardly any damage to the wall.”

PC Andrew Slark, forensic collision investigator for Sussex Police, said in his report that Mr Burford had not sufficiently steered the car around the sharp right hand bend enough, and this in turn caused the vehicle to mount a grass verge and hit the wall.

He said the driver’s seat was wet suggesting that Mr Burford could have suffered from incontinence at the time.

However, he added: “There is no evidence to say that this caused a distraction.

“But he may have suffered a medical event while in the car and I believe that this more likely caused him to lose control of the vehicle.”

Mr and Mrs Burford’s son, Ian, said at Wednesday’s hearing that his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago, which caused him to have difficulties with continence.

He added his father needed glasses to drive and, since the accident, has been diagnosed with cataracts.

Coroner Alan Craze recorded a verdict of death by road traffic accident.