Axminster driver was in wrong lane before fatal crash

PUBLISHED: 07:05 23 April 2015 | UPDATED: 07:05 23 April 2015

The late Lisa Williamson

The late Lisa Williamson

Archant

Night worker Lisa Williamson may have fallen asleep at the wheel, an inquest is told

An Axminster woman’s car crossed into the wrong carriageway moments before a devastating head-on collision, an inquest heard.

Melissa ‘Lisa’ Williamson, 45, was killed and the other driver suffered life-changing injuries in the horrific crash at Trafalgar Way, on the B3261, on March 19, last year.

The hearing, at Exeter, was told Mrs Williamson may have fallen asleep at the wheel, having just completed a busy night shift at a local care home where, for several days, she had been working extra hours to cover for colleagues on leave.

Deputy coroner Ian Tomalin heard that after completing work at Pinhay House Residential Home, near Lyme Regis, Mrs Williamson had taken a neighbour to Exeter for a hospital appointment and was returning home alone when the accident happened.

Ian Gaylard, driving a Complete Meats van towards Axminster, said he came up behind her silver Ford Focus as it turned off the A35 below Gammons Hill, at Kilmington, at around 7.45am.

He said he was doing about 40mph and then saw the Focus drift over the central white line slightly, before pulling back again to its correct side.

A short while later it did the same thing but this time it did not come back and hit a Toyota Rav 4x4 head-on.

“There was nothing the 4 x 4 driver could have done to avoid the collision,” he said.

The Toyota driver was Cathy Goulding, a legal adviser at Taunton and Yeovil magistrates’ courts, who was a very keen horse rider.

A statement by her sister, Valerie Ford, described how the accident had devastated Ms Goulding’s life. Her injuries were so extensive she might never fully recover, she said.

“It is not known if she can work or ride again. The impact on her life has been huge,” she added.

Collision investigator MPC Stuart Parratt said there were no apparent mechanical reasons for the crash, human error being the only remaining cause.

Mr Peter Williamson, who described his wife as ‘my friend, partner and my whole life’ suggested she might have been blinded by the sun which would have been rising in the east as she drove towards it at the time of the crash.

Mr Tomalin said the possible explanations were that Mrs Williamson had become distracted, inattentive or had fallen asleep at the wheel.

“We know she had been working longer hours and extra nights to cover for holidays,” he added.

He concluded that she had died from multiple injuries suffered from a road traffic accident.

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