TWO women died in a crash when the vehicle they were travelling in pulled out into the path of another car on a dual carriageway, an inquest has been told.

Teacher Karen Toolan, 37, died instantly and pensioner Dorothy Daly, 70, died in hospital after the collision, on the A690 near Durham City, on the last Saturday in November.

They were passengers in a Vauxhall Zafira people carrier being driven by Catholic priest Father Philip Gillespie.

Miss Toolan's mother Maureen, 59, and her sister Lynne, 31, were also injured.

The driver of the car which collided with the people carrier, 19-year-old Greg Ferguson, of Hetton-le-Hole, suffered spinal injuries and his passengers, Stephen Goodwin, 20, of Durham, and Thomas Barker, 21, of West Rainton, were also injured.

The Toolans and Mrs Daly had travelled from their homes in Liverpool to visit Father Gillespie, their former parish priest, who had moved to Durham to take up a lecturing post at Ushaw College, a Roman Catholic seminary.

The accident happened as they were on their way to an evening meal and were crossing the A690 to reach the Ramside Hall Hotel's driveway.

The people carrier they were travelling in had just pulled out from the central reservation when it collided with Mr Ferguson's Ford Focus, which was heading towards Durham in the outside lane.

Mrs Toolan, the front seat passenger, said she looked to the left and saw another car in the inside lane.

She thought there was sufficient time to cross the carriageway but "almost instantly" the vehicle was hit by Mr Ferguson's car.

Mr Ferguson said he was travelling at up to 65 mph - the limit is 70 mph - when he saw the people carrier stop in the central reservation.

He said: "Because I saw it stop, I thought it was going to wait for me to go past, but within the next two or three seconds it seemed to pull out in front of me."

Father Gillespie exercised his right of silence at the hearing.

But the inquest heard that he told police he saw the car in the inside lane and considered there was enough time to get across the road.

North Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle said Mr Ferguson could not be blamed for the accident and recorded a verdict of accidental death.