‘Lucy must have been shocked and stayed in the car...then another car hit us’: The dramatic account of Widdington teen’s friend
10:41 29 May 2014
Dramatic accounts at the inquest into the death of a Widdington teenager included her friend reliving the harrowing moment he urged her to get out of their car seconds before it was hit by another vehicle.
The two-day inquest at Huntingdon Coroner’s Court heard how Max Drane, then 18, made the desperate plea after clambering from his damaged Vauxhall Corsa – which by that time was facing the wrong direction.
It was in the second crash that 17-year-old Lucinda May Burnell – Lucy to her friends and family – suffered fatal injuries, the hearing was told.
The Corsa had spun to a halt after colliding with a trailer, which had lost a wheel, attached to a Mercedes Sprinter van.
In a police statement, Mr Drane, of The Wayback, Saffron Walden, said: “Lucy must have been shocked and remained in the car.
“Then another car came and hit us.”
Highways Agency employee Paul Curtis arrived on the scene minutes later.
He told the court: “I was met by a young man who was very distressed. My initial thought was the car was on fire.
“My first priority was for the safety of the people involved.”
With the help of Mr Drane, Mr Curtis moved Lucy from the passenger’s side of the car to the driver’s side.
He said: “It was very dark and there was lots of smoke.
“In my mind it was the safest thing to do to get her across to the driver’s side.
“She was still talking to me but she was in pain.
“I tried to do my best – I am first aid trained.
“Lucy was seriously injured and I realised she needed to get expert medical help as soon as possible.”
Recalling the initial crash, Mr Drane said he moved from the overtaking lane to the inside lane because a car was travelling behind him “at some speed”.
He was also worried about missing the junction for Saffron Walden.
Mr Drane’s Corsa collided with the trailer, which was overhanging the inside lane by one metre.
The car went underneath it, before hitting the back of the attached van and spinning into the overtaking lane of the carriageway.
In his statement, Mr Drane said: “As soon as I made the decision [to move across to the inside lane], I knew in my head, we both knew, something was going to happen like we were going to crash.
“We both screamed. I did not have enough time to brake.
“There was a car in the right lane [overtaking]. I had nowhere to go.”
With the Corsa facing the wrong direction, Mr Drane climbed out and encouraged Lucy to do the same.
However, before she had time to do so, the car was hit by an Alfa Romeo.
The court heard the Corsa had no lights because its power had been disabled following the collision with the trailer.
Crash investigator Simon Burgin told the court that because of this the second collision was “unavoidable”.
However, he said Mr Drane had made an “error of judgement” and “failed to see what was apparently obvious to him” in moving into the inside lane.
After Mr Curtis gave his evidence, Lucy’s mother, Diane, said to him: “Thank you, thank you for helping Lucy.”
Coroner Belinda Cheney, recording a road traffic collision verdict, said multiple factors had contributed to Lucy’s death.