STAR PLAYER’S DEATH WAS TRAGIC AC­CI­DENT - IN­QUEST

South Wales Echo - - FRONT PAGE - NINO WIL­LIAMS Re­porter nino.wil­liams@waleson­line.co.uk

A WELSH in­ter­na­tional rugby player died after her car col­lided with an­other while driv­ing in wet con­di­tions, an in­quest heard yes­ter­day.

Cardiff Met stu­dent Elli Nor­kett, of Pitch­ford Lane in Llan­darcy, Neath Port Talbot, had been driv­ing her Toy­ota Yaris when it crashed on a bend in the A4109 road be­tween Ban­wen and Glyn­neath in Fe­bru­ary.

An in­quest, held at Swansea Civic Cen­tre, re­vealed weather on the evening of the col­li­sion was “very poor”, with heavy rain and wit­nesses not­ing stand­ing water on parts of the road sur­face.

“For rea­sons un­known” the 20-year-old’s car was on the wrong the side of the road when it col­lided with a Vaux­hall In­signia com­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

Col­li­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tor PC Lisa Mor­gan told the in­quest there was no phys­i­cal ev­i­dence there was any­thing wrong with her car, nor of any mo­bile phone use at the wheel, or ve­hi­cle fail­ure, nor that ei­ther car had been driv­ing at ex­ces­sive speed.

Ms Nor­kett had also been wear­ing her seat belt.

A post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion also re­vealed there was no al­co­hol or drugs in Ms Nor­kett’s sys­tem.

The in­quest was told Ms Nor­kett had left her home that evening to col­lect an In­dian take­away meal, and that the col­li­sion had flipped her car onto the side, trap­ping her within the ve­hi­cle.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic had tried to help un­til emer­gency ser­vices ar­rived, which, when they did, took three quar­ters of an hour to free her, dur­ing which there was “rapid de­te­ri­o­ra­tion”.

One wit­ness, Owain Ap Hy­wel, told in­ves­ti­ga­tors: “It was dark and the roads were very wet with rain, and stand­ing water on sec­tions of the road.”

The driver of the other ve­hi­cle had her 12-year-old niece in the car with her, but was not able to warn her of the im­pend­ing col­li­sion. Both suf­fered mi­nor in­juries.

The cause of death was given as mul­ti­ple blunt force in­juries to Ms Nor­kett’s torso.

Ms Nor­kett, orig­i­nally from Neath, had played rugby for var­i­ous women’s teams in­clud­ing Ospreys and Cardiff Met and had earned four Welsh caps.

She was the youngest player at the 2014 World Cup, aged just 17. Her team­mates paid an emo­tional trib­ute to her ahead of their Six Na­tions clash against Ire­land, as a minute’s ap­plause was held and a ban­ner un­furled rep­re­sent­ing the four teams Nor­kett played for in her ca­reer. Her fam­ily had paid thanks to everyone who had at­tempted to as­sist Ms Nor­kett.

Record­ing a con­clu­sion of a road traf­fic col­li­sion, act­ing se­nior coroner Colin Phillips said: “The pub­lic tributes to Elli Nor­kett de­scribe a kind­hearted and car­ing woman, who was a very tal­ented rugby player, and her loss is very sad­den­ing.”

Welsh rugby in­ter­na­tional Elli Nor­kett had earned four caps for her coun­try

Elli Nor­kett with her sis­ter Lowri

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