A DIABETIC driver who “ploughed” into two cyclists had low blood sugar at the time and could not remember anything of the crash, an inquest heard yesterday.
The hearing, at Chester-le- Street Magistrates’ Court, was told that that the diabetic former policewoman made no attempt to brake or avoid the two cyclists and carried on driving after the collision.
Norman Fay, a 72-year-old bike shop owner from South Shields, South Tyneside, died and his friend, John Stephenson, was seriously injured in the crash on June 10, last year, on the A167 just outside of Croft, near Darlington.
Mr Fay’s children have said a number of questions still remain about their father’s death.
The driver of the car, Maureen Henderson, from Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, recently died and never faced prosecution for the crash.
Mr Fay and Mr Stephenson had travelled by train to Darlington and had just started out on their ride to York where they were due to attend a cycle rally.
Paul Cook, from Etherley Dene, near Bishop Auckland was travelling in the opposite direction when he witnessed the Citreon C5, being driven by 69-year-old Ms Henderson, hit the two riders.
Mr Cook told the inquest: “It didn’t really hit them, it just ploughed straight through them. They were obviously thrown in the air and that was about it.
“The car passed me, the windscreen was smashed, and it carried on down the road.”
Ms Henderson drove on for another 400 yards before her car came to rest on a grass verge.
Mr Fay died later that day and Mr Stephenson suffered severe leg and neck injuries.
Traffic officer PC Dale Cowey told the hearing that Ms Henderson, who had suffered from diabetes for 20 years and was insulin dependent, was questioned by CID officers and he read from transcripts of the interview.
Her mother had recently died and that day she had been to the Co-op undertakers, in Newton Aycliffe, to make arrangements for the funeral.
She told officers she had eaten a bowl of cornflakes and taken her insulin. She remembered nothing of the accident until she woke up on the grass verge outside of her vehicle.
An expert from the Newcastle Diabetes Centre had submitted a report, which said he had no doubt that Ms Henderson had suffered impairment to her mental faculties because of her low blood glucose levels.
PC Cowey said Ms Henderson’s blood-sugar level was about half of the minimum healthy level.
She had also breached DVLA rules by not informing them of her illness.
Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle said it was not his job to assign blame for Mr Fay’s death and recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Fay’s son, Norman, said following his father’s death he had to close the family business, which had been running since 1926.
He said: “We have absolutely no legal recourse now.
“It’s not just the emotional effects, as a result of this I’ve had to close the business and am now unemployed.”