Rugby ace died when car crashed in rain – inquest
AWELSH 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, was driving her Toyota Yaris when it crashed on a bend on the A4109 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 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 travelling 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 inside the vehicle.
Members of the public had tried to help until emergency services arrived, and when they did, it 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 team-mates 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 Ms Norkett played for in her career.
Her family thanked everyone who had attempted to assist her.
Recording a conclusion of a road traffic collision, acting senior coroner Colin Phillips said: “The public tributes to Elli Norkett describe a kind-hearted and caring woman, who was a very talented rugby player, and her loss is very saddening.”
> Welsh rugby international Elli Norkett, 20, was killed in a car crash