Inquest: Woman who died in motorway crash was worried about missing appointment

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Zoe Maclennan
Zoe Maclennan’s family said they had no concerns about her driving

A 90-YEAR-OLD widow worried about missing a doctor’s appointment died after losing control of her car at 70mph and crashing into a tree.

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Zoe Maclennan suddenly veered in front of a lorry to get to the slip road after nearly missing the M27 Junction 1 turning at Cadnam, Winchester Coroner’s Court was told.

The HGV driver looked on in horror as Mrs Maclennan’s Honda Jazz clipped a grass verge before careering over the road.

Other witnesses saw the vehicle plough headfirst into a tree. Mrs Maclennan, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from her car.

Drivers who came to her aid found her still breathing but Mrs Maclennan, who lived at Ashley Heath, near Ringwood, died of multiple injuries soon afterwards despite attempts by paramedics to save her.

The inquest heard how police later found texts on her phone indicating that she was late for the appointment.

She had been travelling along the eastbound junction of the M27 when the accident happened, at around 11.30am on 23rd October last year.

Footage of the moments leading up to it was captured by the lorry’s dashcam. The driver, Kevin Dixon, who was in the nearside lane, said he saw Mrs Maclennan’s car “coming up fast” alongside him.

Investigators estimated she was travelling at around 70mph in the moments before the crash.

The car then went across the front of his vehicle “as if she had misjudged the turning”, said Mr Dixon, and onto the slip road from the A31 where he saw it go out of control.

Investigators found nothing wrong with the car and judged the crash had been due to driver error.

Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said Mrs Maclennan, who had been widowed earlier in the year, “must have been quite a character” as she was “90 years old and zipping down the motorway”.

Son Donald Maclennan said her family had no concerns about her driving which was usually to the shops or the doctors. Daughter Fiona agreed saying: “If we felt she was unsafe we would have stopped her.”

Tragically they revealed she had been in the process of moving to Cambridge to be nearer her son and grandchildren so she could “give up the car”.

Ms Rhodes-Kemp told him: “I am sorry that did not happen. It is very sad what happened here.”

Summing up, she said she believed Mrs Maclennan had “possibly been flustered” about missing her appointment. Her vision had been hampered by the lorry, not seen the turning, and taken a “last-minute decision” to try to make it.

Concluding her death was an accident, she added that it was “an absolute tragedy”.

Ms Rhodes-Kemp said that she did not believe a seatbelt would have saved her life as her injuries, which included neck and back fractures, were so catastrophic.

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