THE mother of a ‘vivacious and outgoing’ young woman tragically killed in a car accident has warned of the importance of wearing seatbelts.
Fiona Knox spoke after the inquest of former Thomas Alleyne’s High School pupil Liberty Turner who died after the silver Renault Megane she was a passenger in collided with a white Ford Transit van in Ellastone Road, Winkhill, near Leek, at 1.20am on Wednesday, July 27, 2011.
The 20-year-old was a backseat passenger in the vehicle being driven by her younger sister Imogen, who also suffered serious injuries as a result of the collision.
Her inquest, held at North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court, in Hartshill, heard Imogen had picked up her sister from their grandparents house in Leek with friend Joshua Fenton after finishing a shift waitressing at Alton Towers, where Liberty also worked.
Mr Fenton, of Leek, said he had gone with Imogen to the Cricketer’s Arms, in Oakamoor before picking up Liberty to take her back to Chaffinch Drive, in Uttoxeter.
He said the sisters had been arguing as Liberty was meant to be picked up by a friend and Imogen did not really want to pick her up.
Mr Fenton said: “She was driving more erratically than normal as Imogen was usually a very cautious driver, maybe out of anger or because she was a bit peeved.” He said they argued in the car with Imogen driving faster than she normally would and Liberty was not wearing her seatbelt.
Describing the accident, Mr Fenton said: “I remember seeing the lights in the distance and Imogen took the corner too fast and drifted onto the opposite side of the road. We were at a 90 degree angle across the road.
“I got out of the car and went round to Imogen and Lib. Imogen was crushed and screaming. When I looked in the back Lib was faced down in the footwell behind the driver’s seat. I heard a grunting noise and thought she was still alive.
“Imogen kept falling asleep so I was trying to keep her awake. I couldn’t remember where we were to tell the emergency services, I think it was shock. It all happened so fast.” The driver of the van, Stewart Cunningham, from Dorest, was delivering fish for Greenslades with colleague Glynn Spencer and was using a TomTom sat nav to negotiate the roads.
In a statement read out to the court, he said the car veered across the road and appeared to have lost control.
He said: “I didn’t have time to react before it slammed into the van.” In the aftermath, Mr Cunningham lost his glasses which made it difficult for him to see what was going on.
North Staffordshire Deputy Coroner Anthony Curzon recorded a verdict of accident death.
He said: “This is a very tragic accident, made even worse by the fact other members of Liberty’s family were involved.
“She suffered severe head injuries as a result of the crash which resulted in her death.” Mr Curzon passed his condolences onto Liberty’s family and wished Imogen a full recovery.
After the inquest, Ms Knox described her daughter as very vivacious and outgoing and reminded others of the importance of wearing seatbelts.