A MOTHER driving her disabled son to a daycare centre suffered a fatal cardiac arrest at the wheel, a coroner has confirmed.

Patricia Metcalfe was travelling along School Aycliffe Lane, in Newton Aycliffe, on the morning of Monday, April 1, when she became unwell and her Volkswagen T-Roc left the road and collided with a "significant" tree.

The accident seriously injured her son, Gary Metcalfe, who was flown to James Cook University Hospital, but sadly died five days later, on April 6, as a result of his injuries.

Mrs Metcalfe was pronounced dead at the scene.

An inquest into the death of Mr Metcalfe, 63, and Mrs Metcalfe, 88, who both lived in School Aycliffe, was held at Durham Miners Hall yesterday.

Statements from two witnesses to the incident were read out during the hearing, which described Mrs Metcalfe's car as appearing "out of control" before it crashed into a tree on Horndale Avenue.

Mick Woodhouse, a forensic collision investigator with Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said at the time of the incident weather conditions were dry and visibility was clear.

He said there were no mechanical defects that could have caused, or contributed to, the car leaving the road and distraction by a mobile phone had been ruled out.

A toxicology report also found no alcohol or drugs in Mrs Metcalfe's system which could have impacted her driving.

PC Woodhouse added that there was no evidence that the car had braked and it was likely that a medical-type episode was the most likely cause of the incident.

Mrs Metcalfe's son, Stephen Metcalfe, said during the inquest that in all of his mother's years of driving she had never been involved in an accident.

He also addressed his brother, Gary, not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.

He said: "Mam's car displayed a message if a seat belt was not fastened, she would not have travelled if Gary did not have his seat belt on.

"Although Gary had Dandy-Walker Syndrome, the vast majority of his brain worked like ours.

"Emotionally he was all there and if he could help someone then he would have, and I think that's what has happened. He has took his seatbelt off to try and help Mam."

Assistant Coroner Oliver Longstaff said: "It is more likely that not that Mrs Metcalfe suffered a terminal cardiac event whilst driving her car, which explains how her car left the road.

"In the collision Gary Metcalfe suffered injuries which proved to be fatal."

Mr Longstaff concluded that Mrs Metcalfe died from natural causes and Mr Metcalfe died due to injuries sustained in a road traffic collision.