Car flew into air like missile

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A BURNLEY woman died after the car she was travelling in launched into the air “like a guided missile” when it aquaplaned on a busy bypass in bad weather, an inquest heard.

Mrs Shameem Gulzar (35), of Old Hall Street, Daneshouse, was a passenger in a silver Mercedes car which became airborne after it skidded on standing water – then careered through a gap in the central reservation and smashed into three vehicles on the A56 Accrington Easterly bypass.

Coroner Mr Michael Singleton said he could only describe the tragedy as “carnage” and recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The inquest at Accrington Town Hall heard the Mercedes was travelling at 60 to 70 m.p.h. on the road between Huncoat and Rising Bridge at 9-45am on September 25th last year.

It launched into the opposite side of the bypass and hit a Sprinter van and a Ford Transit before colliding with a Mini Cooper.

Mrs Gulzar suffered a fractured skull and collapsed lungs and later died in the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Her 18-month-old nephew survived the horror smash as did the driver, Mrs Gulzar’s brother Tariq Gulzar, who is still recovering from his injuries.

Police accident investigators told the inquest the rear tyres of the silver Mercedes car were worn below the legal limit.

Mr David Osborne, a self-employed delivery driver who was driving the Sprinter van, said he has suffered sleepless nights, financial loss and is apprehensive every time he approaches a junction in a vehicle.

“It just launched,” he told the inquest.

“It was like a guided missile airborne. The impact when the Mercedes hit me forced me off the road and into the grass verge and into a lamppost.”

Landscape worker Gareth Clarke, who was driving two co-workers in his Ford Transit, told the inquest he tried to rescue the injured people.

He said: “We tried to get the doors open, everything was locked shut. There was nothing we could do which was the saddest part.”

PC Richard Roberts, a senior accident investigator for Lancashire Police, said the weather on the day was the wettest he had seen in 12 years on the job.

He told the inquest both rear tyres of the Mercedes were worn down to approximately 1mm. The legal limit is 1.6mm.

He said after the inquest the worn tyres were a contributing factor to the car aquaplaning.

The inquest also heard the painted white line at the side of the bypass, near where the Mercedes aquaplaned, did not have the necessary gaps in it for standing water to drain through.

The Highways Agency, which manages the bypass, said gaps have since been corrected.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency added: “This is likely to have had a negligible impact on the drainage, and water would still have been able to flow through the gap and into the gully.”

Mr Singleton said Mrs Gulzar, from Burnley, died of multiple injuries.

“There is more than one victim. There were many people that were involved in this who will be affected, probably, for the rest of their lives by the events that day. I can only describe it as carnage.

“I also want to pay tribute to the emergency services that we take so much for granted. They have my utmost respect.”