Toddler died after mum lost control of car

Eloise Mann
Eloise Mann

SMILEY toddler Eloise Mann was killed in a tragic accident when her mother lost control of her car, skidded on to the wrong side of the road and crashed into a van.

Two-year-old Eloise (pictured), a twin who lived at Tower Road, St Leonards, was killed in the crash on the A27 between Pevensey and Eastbourne on February 22. An inquest into her death was held at Eastbourne Magistrates Court yesterday afternoon.

The youngster and her brother Finlay were safely strapped into car seats but the crash, which took place as both vehicles were travelling at around 50mph in wet conditions, caused Eloise multiple injuries.

Gary Brocklehurst, of Eastbourne who was driving the Citroen van involved in the collision, told deputy coroner Joanna Pratt that Ann Mann’s car came across into his lane leaving him no time to brake.

“It appeared out of nowhere,” he said. “I just suddenly saw it appear in front of me and then it hit the front driver’s side.”

Witnesses said Mrs Mann’s Fiat Doblo swung around 360 degrees as the contents of the car’s boot spilled out on to the road. The inquest heard the car hit the rumble strip and grass verge before skidding on to the wrong side of the road while Mrs Mann battled to regain control.

Witness Peter Jones told Miss Pratt: “There were pieces of debris flying everywhere.”

“I heard the lady from the vehicle. As I went to walk over she was shouting out ‘please help my babies’ but I was already on the phone to the services and I was telling them there were kiddies on board.”

None of Eloise’s family attended yesterday afternoon but a summary of Mrs Mann’s police interviews were read at the inquest.

In the two interviews, held on March 2 and April 22 at Hastings Police Station, Mrs Mann told the officers she had lost control of her car but didn’t know how - she could “only offer guesses” she said.

However, Sussex Police crash investigator Chris Harrison told the coroner that witnesses had heard her say: “I only took my eyes off the road for a second.”

He said: “The crash was caused by the actions or inactions of the driver. She was distracted or inactive for a period of time sufficient enough for her to leave the carriageway.”

Miss Pratt described it as a tragic death and recorded a verdict of accidental death.

No criminal charges were brought over the accident.