Muddy road blamed for grandma’s tragic death

Tragedy: Wendy Hartley with her granddaughter Amy

Tragedy: Wendy Hartley with her granddaughter Amy

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A devastated husband was told by a coroner that his wife would still be alive had it not been for a muddy road.

William Hartley was left bereft after his 63-year-old wife Wendy was killed when he lost control of their car on February 4 this year.

Mrs Hartley, a retired teacher from Bowland Road, Cabus, Garstang, died from multiple injuries in Royal Preton Hospital.

But Preston deputy coroner Simon Jones said had it not been for the mud on the road the accident would not have happened.

He said: “I’m entirely satisfied from the evidence that were if not for the presence of the mud on this carriageway Mrs Hartley would still be with us.

“The problem of mud on rural highways is an issue that perhaps should be taken more seriously than it is.

“This is truly a tragedy.”

Mr and Mrs Hartley were driving towards Garstang on Blackpool Road when the accident happened at about 11.15am on a Saturday.

Their car crossed to the opposite side of the road and began to spin before colliding with a Suzuki Vitara coming the opposite way.

Preston coroner’s court heard how the road outside Wyre Bank Farm was “heavily contaminated” with mud, which had become wet and slippery due to rain.

Three other drivers, including the police officer who had been called to the accident, said they too had experienced problems on the same day due to the slippery road.

A statement from PC Michael Burns said that he felt his anti-lock braking system activate as he drove over the mud, even though he was doing only five to 10 mph.

He said: “The mud was so thick in some areas that the road could not be seen.”

Henry Barton, of Townside Gate, Great Eccleston, also used Blackpool Road just minutes before the accident and said he had noticed mud on the road the day before.

He said: “As I approached it the next morning I thought I would have to be really careful. As my van hit that stretch I began to feel it moving as if it had a mind of its own and I reduced my speed dramatically to rectify it.”

Roy Holden, 58, of Argyle Drive, Poulton, who was driving the Suzuki 4x4, said that Mr Hartley’s car came across the road onto his side in a perfect arc and hit his vehicle with a massive impact.

Carl Smith, proprietor of Wyre Bank Farm said he had employed Peter Parker of Higher Moorfield, Catterall, to move slurry from the farm to a field down the road.

Both said they had not noticed the mud on the road.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner said it was inconceivable that the mud originated from anywhere other than the farm.