Black ice on bend caused 'cautious' Doncaster driver to lose control and fatally crash, inquest hears
A young Doncaster woman, who was killed in a collision as she drove to work, lost control of her vehicle after it came into contact with black ice on a bend, a coroner has ruled.
On January 2 this year. Ellie Jay Chappell, aged 21, left her home in Thorne at around 7.40am, driving through Thorne town-centre before making her way on the A614 Selby Road - which was her normal route to work at McDonald's in Goole.
At around 7.50am, Ellie collided with a silver Vauxhall Vectra between Lands End Road and Ferry Road, travelling the opposite way, that was being driven by Katim Kassa Kanteye.
The care worker told the court: "It [the Seat Ibiza] came off to my side of the carriageway.
"I didn't know what was happening so I put my breaks on but it happened so fast."
The court was told how after making her way around a broad bend on the road Ellie lost control of her car which had begun skidding and ended up in the wrong carriageway and into the path of Mr Kanteye's vehicle.
Forensic crash investigator for Yorkshire and the Humber PC John Taylor estimated Mr Kanteye would have had about two seconds to react, and was most likely in the 'reaction period' when the impact occurred.
Ellie, who was described as a 'cautious' driver by her dad George Chappell, died of multiple head injuries, and was pronounced dead on the scene. Mr Kanteye was uninjured.
The court was told how there had been a frost earlier that morning, and PC Taylor described how one officer who attended the scene of the crash fell over walking from his car as a result of the slippery conditions.
The temperature was recorded as being -1 at the time of the collision, and the temperature of the road surface was estimated to be -7.
Mr Taylor said that in normal conditions the bend that Ellie navigated shortly before the collision could have been safely driven round at the speed limit set for the road - which was the national speed limit of 60mph.
During the frosty weather conditions experienced on the morning of the crash PC Taylor said that speed would have to be reduced by one third to around 45mph. He estimated Ellie was travelling within, but towards the higher end, of what he would have regarded to be a safe speed to navigate the bend in such conditions.
PC Taylor said he believed Ellie would have navigated at least half of the bend before losing control of the vehicle.
Road death investigator Neil Morrell told the court that since 2011 there had been a total of seven collisions, including Ellie's, on the same stretch of road where 'slippery conditions' had been a contributing factor.
One of the collisions, which took place in 2014, was in the exact same spot as Ellie's, and had led to minor injuries, the court was told.
Mr Morrell observed that there were no bushes on the stretch of road where Ellie lost control of the vehicle. He said that in icy conditions bushes and foliage help to protect the road surface from ice forming.
He said: "She's come out of where there was no ice to a point where there was black ice on a bend, and lost control of the vehicle."
Mr Morrell said Doncaster Council told him their records showed the road would have been gritted at some point in the five hours leading up to the collision, but said rainfall could have impacted on its ability to make the road less slippery.
But Mr Chappell said he checked Selby Road after the collision and said he could not see any grit on the road. Mr Morrell told the court his colleague had also noted a seeming lack of grit on the road when the collision scene was examined.
He told the court that Ellie took good care of her vehicle and would travel along the A614 to work because she wanted to avoid the motorway and did not like travelling at high speeds. He said she had even been pulled over by police for travelling too slowly.
Mr Chappell paid tribute to his daughter.
"She was a determined girl. She always loved animals and horses from a young age. She was not only close to her immediate family, but to her extended family too," said Mr Chappell.
Senior Doncaster Coroner Nicola Mundy delivered a conclusion of road traffic collision, and said she believed black ice to be the most likely cause for Ellie losing control of the vehicle.
Ms Mundy told the court she would write to Doncaster Council's highways department to request that signage warning drivers of the dangers of the stretch of road in icy conditions was put in place in a bid to prevent further deaths.