Beth Fitton – Derbyshire Times Article
Death crash car had badly worn tyres
Published Date: 03 April 2008
By Staff Copy
A care worker and a 12-year-old girl were killed when a car with badly-worn front tyres crashed into a tree and burst into flames, a Chesterfield inquest heard.
The condition of the tyres – which police believe was a factor in the accident – had twice been highlighted by an employee of Stoney Middleton-based Adventure Care, but they were never replaced.
Residential care worker Beth Fitton (23), of Bennett Street, Buxton, was driving the Peugeot 206 when it crashed in Blackwell Dale, near Tideswell, on July 3 last year.
Salma Elsharkawy, a London girl in care, was her passenger.
Company owner Helen Slater told the inquest the usual method for checking tread depth at the time was using a 10p coin but the centre now had a gauge and tyres were replaced when the tread fell to 3mm, the legal limit being 1.6mm.
She admitted no action had been taken when the condition of the tyres was first reported, adding: "There's not a day goes past when I am not sorry about that."
Salma, who had been referred to the centre by Camden social services, had been living at Adventure Care for four months when the accident occurred.
Miss Slater said the girl had formed a close bond with Miss Fitton.
They were travelling along a winding country lane during mid-afternoon when the car span out of control on a right-hand bend, demolished a section of drystone wall and hit a tree. It burst into flames and came to rest in a field.
Witness, Carlton Sargeant, a delivery driver, went to help but said all he could do was call emergency services because the vehicle was "engulfed in flames".
Collision investigator Pc Richard Bell said poor tread depth could have contributed to the driver losing control in the wet conditions.
He said the defective front tyres "must be considered as contributory factors" but the extent of this was unknown.
The driver was not under the influence of drink or drugs.
North Derbyshire Coroner Tom Kelly recorded verdicts of death from injuries sustained in a road traffic collision on both victims, who died from inhalation of fire fumes.
Adventure Care, of The Nook, Stoney Middleton, was fined £4,000 at an earlier magistrates court hearing when the company admitted using a vehicle with two defective tyres.
Miss Fitton's father, John Fitton, of Peak Forest, said after the hearing: "The accident could possibly have been avoided if the tyres had been replaced."
The full article contains 422 words and appears in DT Peak Edition newspaper.
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· Last Updated: 02 April 2008 4:23 PM
· Source: DT Peak Edition
· Location: Chesterfield
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