Zoey’s tragic death leads to calls for road improvements

Inquest hears exact cause of Zoey Spiller’s car accident may never be known. But she was the second person to lose her life on the same stretch of the A30.

THE tragic death of a teenager has sparked road safety concerns and led to calls from the district’s deputy coroner for an investigation.

An inquest, held last Thursday, determined 18-year-old motorist Zoey Danielle Spiller died as the result of an accident.

She was killed almost instantly on August 25 last year after she lost control of her car on a stretch of the A30, between Honiton and Monkton, and was hit by an oncoming lorry.

She sustained multiple injuries.

Darren Salter, the deputy coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon, is to write a report about the circumstances and ask that an investigation be carried out on the road.

Miss Spiller lost control of her black Renault Clio, which collided with a Vauxhall Astra - causing both cars to rotate and leading her car to slide across the carriageway where it was struck by a Mercedes 7.5 tonne lorry.

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The drivers of the other vehicles involved told the inquest that it had been raining at the time and the road surface was wet.

Zoey worked part-time at Royal Oak Farm, Cotleigh, and aspired to become a personal trainer.

Ian Hasset, a vehicle examiner for the Department of Transport, told the inquest officials are considering resurfacing the length of the carriageway.

A similar death occurred on the same stretch of road in November 2008. The driver was killed after hitting a nearby tree.

MPC Mark Collacott, a forensic collision investigator, who attended the scene, told the inquest that on examining the Renault Clio he found there was a difference in the front tread and alignment of the tyres - there was uneven wear on the nearside of the tyre, which was under-inflated.

MPC Collacott concluded that there was a combination of factors that could have contributed to the incident, including Miss Spiller’s lack of driving experience, a fault in tyre depth and that she was, possibly, using her mobile phone.

He told the inquest: “If there is not sufficient tread or the water is too deep this can cause aquaplaning, meaning the driver has no breaking or effective steering.”

The deputy coroner said there would have been nothing the other drivers involved could have done to avoid the collision.

Mr Salter said: “There are a number of possible causes, unfortunately, we will never know exactly what the cause or causes were.

“A number of factors could have led to this incident.

“It is important to remember there was no evidence that Zoey was using her mobile phone at the time of the collision.”

A verdict of accidental death was recorded, which Mr Salter described as “an unfortunate and tragic accident”.

He added: “Death was almost instantaneous.

“The medical cause of death from the post-mortem was multiple injuries.

“I am satisfied by the evidence that at 9.22am on August 25, 2010, the deceased’s Renault Clio was travelling south west towards Honiton on the A30 when it lost control and the vehicle crossed the carriageway and collided with an oncoming car and lorry.”