AN elderly woman died when the car she was travelling in collided with a articulated lorry parked in a lay-by on the A19 yesterday.

Police said their blue Vauxhall Corsa bounced off the back of the wagon's 40-foot trailer and into the southbound carriageway, two miles after the A174 slip road, near Crathorne.

Police are looking into whether the driver lost control while towing a trailer but said it was too early to be certain last night.

No other vehicles were involved.

Firefighters from Thornaby, Stockton and Coulby Newham arrived on the scene minutes after the crash, just after 1pm.

The road was closed for several hours while fire crews forced the door to free the driver, who was conscious but dazed, before they cut the roof off the wreckage to get the woman out.

Paramedics arrived within eight minutes and airlifted the driver, believed to be the woman's husband, to North Tees Hospital with serious back injuries.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

North-East Air Ambulance station officer Matthew Ward said: "She probably died on impact because judging by the state of the car, her side took the brunt of the crash.

"There was nothing outwardly wrong with the man but he was confused and agitated and didn't know where he lived. We thought it was vital that we got the man into hospital care as quickly as possible.

"The best thing to do is to get people resuscitated then into hospital straight away to give them the best chance of survival."

Last night, the man was still in hospital with multiple fractures. A spokesman described his condition as poorly.

The couple, who are in their late sixties or early seventies, are believed to be from the Sunderland area.

Police closed the A19 south and the A174 slip roads heading in both directions causing traffic delays throughout the afternoon.

The driver of the lorry was not injured but the vehicle had to be lifted from the road.

Diversions were set up while emergency services cleared the debris and police are now trying to establish how the crash happened.

Anyone with information is asked to call (01642) 326326.