Rotherham mum and two of her children died in motorhome crash on A64 after tyre exploded at 50mph

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Rotherham mum and her two children died when their motorhome crashed after a tyre exploded on the A64

A mother and two of her three children died when their motorhome crashed into a parked lorry after a tyre exploded, an inquest heard today.

Craig Hunt was driving his wife Shirley, 44, and children Ellie, nine, Brooklyn, six, and Oscar, five, back to their home in Greasborough, Rotherham after a holiday in Whitby in August 2021 when the collision happened on the A64 westbound between Malton and York.

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The family were travelling in a 7.5-tonne DAF former commercial van that had been converted into a motorhome, with the two boys seated in the front cab with their father and Mrs Hunt and Ellie in the living area at the rear.

North Yorkshire Coroner's Court, Northallerton, picturedNorth Yorkshire Coroner's Court, Northallerton, pictured
North Yorkshire Coroner's Court, Northallerton, pictured

Mr Hunt told the hearing at North Yorkshire Coroner’s Court that he had been travelling at around 50mph during the ‘uneventful’ evening journey when he suddenly heard a loud bang as the tyre blew. He applied the emergency brakes, but the steering became unresponsive and he was unable to avoid ploughing into the back of an articulated flatbed HGV that was parked in a layby’s rest area.

Mrs Hunt, Ellie and Oscar all suffered catastrophic injuries and were killed instantly, while Mr Hunt and Brooklyn survived. The inquest was told that the father and sons were all wearing seatbelts, though the boys did not have booster seats, but that the use of the latter would not have saved Oscar, whose side of the cab took the brunt of the impact.

However, Mrs Hunt and Ellie were using seats that had no restraints or belts fitted.

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Mr Hunt said the family had bought the motorhome in 2020, and that having worked as a vehicle technician for most of his career, he had experience of driving 7.5-tonne trucks. It had recently been serviced with no issues with the tyres flagged, and Mr Hunt himself had checked the wheels before leaving Whitby Abbey that day.

Blood samples showed that Mr Hunt had not used alcohol or drugs and was not believed to have driven with any impairments or been distracted.

Forensic collision investigator TC Paddy Green from North Yorkshire Police confirmed that the van, formerly owned by BT, was manufactured in 1993 and the tyre that exploded in 2002. As it was no longer a commercial vehicle, the DAF was not subject to enhanced testing requirements.

The speed was recorded at 53mph before impact in a 60mph zone. TC Green said that there was a loss of control when the tyre suddenly deflated and the rim contacted with the road surface.

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The tyre was described as ‘serviceable’ and the inflation and tread depth were appropriate. However, on inspection TC Green found a small hole in the tread which had expanded over time and exposed the structure of the tyre to the elements. Pressure escaped, causing the deflation. The gradual damage would not have been visible to the naked eye.

TC Green added that witness accounts confirmed Mr Hunt’s driving had been normal before the crash and that he had reacted quickly to the emergency by braking.

He added that it was ‘very difficult to say’ whether Mrs Hunt and Ellie would have survived if they had been wearing seatbelts, but added that ‘seatbelts save lives’ and that two of the three restrained occupants of the motorhome had survived. No further structural modifications had been carried out to the campervan after the Hunts had bought it.

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Recording conclusions of death in a road traffic collision for all three victims, assistant coroner Alison Norton agreed there was ‘insufficient evidence’ that the presence of seatbelts would have saved the lives of Mrs Hunt and Ellie. However, she intends to compile a Prevention of Future Deaths report in relation to the lack of laws preventing both adults and children from travelling in the rear of motorhomes without restraint and the subsequent risk to life.

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