Muddy road led to fatal smash

Tragic: Wendy Hartley was killed in a smash on a muddy road
Tragic: Wendy Hartley was killed in a smash on a muddy road

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.

Retired teacher Mrs Hartley from Bowland Road, Cabus, died from multiple injuries in Royal Preston 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 it not for the presence of 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.”

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 before colliding with a Suzuki Vitara coming the opposite way.

Preston coroner’s court heard how the road at Wyre Bank Farm was “heavily contaminated” with mud which was slippery due to rain.

Three other drivers, including the police officer called to the accident, said they also experienced problems that day on the slippery road.

A statement from PC Michael Burns said 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 the road could not be seen.”

Henry Barton of Townside Gate, Great Eccleston, also used Blackpool Road minutes before the accident.

He said: “As my van hit that stretch I began to feel it moving as if it had a mind of its own.”

Roy Holden, 58, of Argyle Drive, Poulton, who was driving the Suzuki 4x4, said Mr Hartley’s car careered across the road 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.