Crash tragedy led to death of retired teacher

Charmian Snowden with her son Mark
Charmian Snowden with her son Mark

A former deputy headteacher of Tudor Hall School died from cardio-respiratory failure after she fractured her spinal cord when her car collided with a tree.

An inquest held at County Hall in Oxford on Tuesday heard the accident happened as Charmian Snowden, 82, of Milton, was driving her Vaxuhall Agila along Sandfine Road in Broughton on September 7.

A statement read out to the court from Elaine Wood, who had been a carer for Mrs Snowden since September 6, said Mrs Snowden wanted to buy a pint of milk. They drove to the Co-op in Bloxham before travelling towards Broughton Castle to take Mrs Snowden’s dog Milly for a walk.

Ms Wood said: “Charmian wanted to drive her car and be independent. Once we had taken Milly for a walk we started to drive home.

“We were travelling along a narrow road with trees and hedges either side, I didn’t know where we were as I was not familiar with the location.”

At about 4pm, they approached a grassy triangle in the road, which led to Shutford or North Newington.

As they arrived at the junction, Ms Wood said that Mrs Snowden accidently put her foot on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake. This caused the car to do a 360 degree turn before hitting a tree. Mrs Snowden was airlifted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford with severe neck injuries, resulting in her being paralysed from the neck down.

Following a successful operation to realign her spine, she told surgeons not to resuscitate her if she went into cardiac arrest. She died on September 21.

Coronor Dan Salter recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Mrs Snowden was deputy head teacher at Tudor Hall School near Banbury from 1969 until retiring in 1993.

Speaking after the inquest, her son Mark said: “Her funeral was very well attended.

“Many people enjoyed reading her memoirs and were keen to hear her stories about living in Yorkshire during the Second World War. Her independence came from being the youngest.”