A 29-year-old woman from Chipping Norton who died after being hit by a car while intoxicated suffered ‘catastrophic’ injuries to her back and head, a coronor’s court has heard.
Samantha Whiting, of Old London Road, died after she was struck by a silver Toyota Avensis taxi- on the A40 Northern Bypass at about 11.45pm on May 1.
At an inquest at Oxford’s County Hall on Tuesday, Dr Olaf Biedryzcki gave evidence after carrying out a post mortem examination with a toxicology report indicating Miss Whiting was about three times over the drink drive limit.
He said: “The nature of the injuries are consistent with a road traffic collision and I felt that the nature of what I saw was very much or her being stood up when she was hit. These were catastrophic injuries to the back and head and death would have been instant. No medical emergency assistance would have made any difference if they were there.”
The court also heard from Miss Whiting’s boyfriend Daniel Urbano, who was driving her back from Oxford to her home in Chipping Norton after she had been drinking.
When she said she wanted him to stop the car because she wanted to get out and was feeling sick, Mr Urbano told the court he stopped in a layby and the pair walked down a path along the road.
He said: “She was OK. She asked if we could walk for a while and wanted to walk to Kidlington but I said we should stay with the car headlights coming towards us. We had to stop a couple of times because she was getting tired.”
The court heard how Mr Urbano was holding Miss Whiting steady as they were walking but when he went to pick up some cigarettes and a mobile phone that had fallen out of his pocket, she went onto the dual carriageway where she was hit by a car.
When asked by coronor Dan Salter if she intentionally went onto the road, Mr Urbano replied: “I do not think it was on purpose. If she wanted to do it she would have but there was no reason for that.”
Anna Balaguer was travelling in the Toyota from Thornhill Park & Ride to her home. She was in the back of the vehicle as a passenger and resting her eyes before she heard the crash.
When she opened them the windscreen was shattered and the car came to an abrupt halt.
In a victim statement Ms Balaguer said: “The driver said he did not know what he had hit and thought it was a deer. He appeared to be frozen in shock and confusion. I checked for a pulse and tried CPR but she had already died.”
PC Daniel Henderson conducted a collision investigation report on the incident and said the visibility of the pedestrian on a dark, unlit dual carriageway meant the driver of the vehicle would have needed a reaction time of less than a second to avoid a collision.
He said: “On a rural dual carriageway it is unusual to see a pedestrian dressed in clothing which is not highly visible. There is nothing about this that would make the pedestrian stand out.
“There is no light on this section of road so the driver would need to have a reaction time of one to two seconds to react to this incident. It is virtually impossible that any meaningful reaction could have been taken to avoid the pedestrian. “On facing with a darkly dressed pedestrian on a dark carriageway the collision was inevitable in the circumstances.”
Recording an open verdict, Mr Salter added: “There will always be an area of uncertainty about why it was that Samantha ended up in the road either by walking or staggering but whether it was an accident or on purpose it is more difficult to say.”
A family statement after the inquest said: “We are devastated as a family and we feel that the inquest has helped to provide some answers to allow us all to come to terms with this terrible tragedy.
“We would also like to thank the police for the support and understanding of our needs throughout the investigation.”