Rossendale Free Press
Tragic mother lost control of car in crash horror
Inquest hears how accident occurred in ‘treacherous’ weather
AYOUNG Valley mum died in an horrific crash on the M66 after losing control of her BMW in ‘treacherous’ weather conditions, an inquest heard.
Natalie Doherty, 33, from Crawshawbooth, was returning home with her boyfriend after taking him to a business meeting when her vehicle hit a large pool of water and aquaplaned. It then left the carriageway and crashed into a tree.
Natalie, of Chapel Street, was pronounced dead at the scene. She leaves behind her seven-year-old son Bobby.
An inquest into her death at Rochdale Coroner’s Court was this week told by GMP officer Paul Terry, a forensic collision investigator, that the aquaplaning was exacerbated by low tyre tread depths on the BMW.
Assistant coroner Lisa Judge said: “The union of those separate factors - speed, tread depth and standing water, resulted in aquaplaning occurring with fatal consequences.”
LOW tyre tread depth contributed to the death of a “beautiful” Valley mum in a crash on the M66.
Natalie Doherty, from Crawshawbooth, lost control of her BMW on the motorway near Bury on May 8.
The weather had been “treacherous” at the time of the tragedy.
The 33-year-old had just joined the northbound side when her vehicle hit a large pool of water and aquaplaned.
The car, in which her boyfriend was a passenger at the time, left the carriageway and crashed into a tree.
Sadly, Natalie, of Chapel Street, was pronounced dead at the scene.
An inquest into her death was held at Rochdale Coroners’ Court by assistant coroner Lisa Judge on Monday, November 1.
It heard how Natalie, who leaves behind her sevenyear-old son Bobby, had no
drugs or alcohol in her system at the time of the collision.
She was returning home with her boyfriend after taking him to a business meeting when the crash happened.
Giving evidence, her boyfriend, Jamie Hogarth, said she was not travelling more than 60mph and was not using her phone.
He said: “Her last words were, ‘Oh f***, Jamie.’ We aquaplaned, did a 180 spin
and spun across the carriageway. We drove up the embankment and hit a tree.”
Mr Hogarth said it was “clear” to him that Natalie had died “very quickly”.
A post mortem showed she had suffered very severe internal injuries including a fractured sternum and ribs.
It was found Natalie died of multiple fatal injuries and hemothorax, when blood collects between the chest wall and lungs.
A witness, who submitted a statement for the hearing, said he was also involved in an accident on the same stretch of the M66.
The driver had just left the entry slip road and was travelling towards Bury when he hit floodwater.
He said: “The weather was not great and it was raining heavily.
“I was on the outside lane travelling no more than 60mph when all of a sudden I hit water. I held the steering wheel straight and the car spun the other way and collided with the barrier.
“Another car pulled up to check we were okay. It’s a notoriously bad stretch of motorway. It didn’t feel like aquaplaning. It felt like there was a slippery substance on the floor.
“I did call 111 but was on the phone for 45 minutes. Later that day I saw there had been a crash on that road but someone had died.”
Another witness, who was travelling on the M66 at the same time of the collision, described running to
Natalie’s vehicle just minutes after the crash.
She said: “My partner said, ‘Oh God, there’s been a crash.’
“I looked up and saw a BMW crash into our lane. It hit the bar near the tree, then the tree. It vanished up the embankment.
“As soon as he stopped the car, I rang 999 and passed him the phone.
“When I got to the tree, I could see the car. I climbed down and shouted ‘Hello’ but I couldn’t hear anything.
“As I got closer, I could hear a man groaning in pain. As I was able to lean into the car, I noticed a female lying still.
“I looked to her chest for signs of life but I could not see anything.”
GMP officer Paul Terry, a forensic collision investigator, said there was no oil spillage on the road at the time of the crash.
He believes the only issue that may have contributed to Natalie’s death was the depth of her tyre treads. Her front driver side tyres measured at 2.6mm, the passenger side 1.6mm, rear back 2.9mm and the off side 1.5mm. The legal limit is 1.6mm.
PC Terry said the aquaplaning was exacerbated by the low tyre tread depths.
He said: “The driving experience would not have affected the collision. Once the car hit the water, it was a matter of the tread depth and physics.”
Clifford Orrell, from Highways England, told the court there was nothing to suggest there was an issue with floodwater on the motorway until Natalie’s death.
He said drainage on the carriageway was effective but due to the level of rainfall on May 8, it became insufficient.
He said: “In terms of this location, there were two reports of incidents of surface water but nothing to indicate there was a problem until this sad incident.
“It may well be a drainage issue. It has now been identified as a flood spot through numbers.”
Mr Orrell confirmed issues on the stretch of motorway have now been looked into following another crash on July 4. Drainage maintenance was performed in October.
Before closing the inquest, coroner Judge asked for confirmation of checks undertaken on the motorway following the recent heavy rainfall. She also asked for proof of policing in that particular area and an inspection regime. She also requested to know how flood spots will be identified in the future.
Summing up the inquest, she said: “The tyre tread caused Natalie’s vehicle to aquaplane and she was unable to regain control.
“The direction in which the vehicle swerved, which was towards the central reservation, I find indicative by the tread depths on the tyres. Aquaplaning will or will not occur, it all depends on the speed, tread depth and water. Natalie’s driving was not to be criticised.
“Once the aquaplaning commenced, there is no chance of the vehicle being resecured. The union of those separate factors speed, tread depth and standing water, resulted in aquaplaning occurring with fatal consequences.
“I have no doubt that the dignity in which the family have conducted themselves comes solely from the love they have for Natalie.”
Paying tribute before the inquest, Natalie’s mother, Marion Mckenzie, described the moment she found out her daughter had died.
The 55-year-old said: “I screamed and Bobby said, ‘What’s wrong with nana?’
“We told him I had stubbed my toe. Then Bobby sat on his bed with his McDonald’s watching telly.
“This morning, I realised we will never see her again. We will never speak to her.
“You just think to yourself, why did she have to go? Why didn’t she just stay at home? Why didn’t they go in the van? But you could question everything.”
Natalie, who had grown up in Haslingden attended secondary school in Rawtenstall before going on to work as a dental nurse for 17 years - her latest job being a receptionist at a dental practice.
Her family say she loved food, shopping and visiting beauty salons, but most of all being a mother to her young son.
Bobby was meant to be travelling in the car with Natalie at the time of the crash, but wanted to stay at his grandmother’s house instead.
Speaking before the inquest, Marion’s partner, Andrea Mckenzie, said: “He’s six - his dad told him mummy is an angel and that God only takes the good angels.
“I’ve never seen a bond like the bond with her and Bobby; they were absolutely inseparable.
“She said she would pick Bobby up but he wanted to stay with his nana, thank God. She usually rings to FaceTime with Bobby. We didn’t hear anything and we just knew.
“It got to 6pm and we knew something wasn’t quite right. At 6.30pm we got the phone call.”
Natalie Doherty’s death was ruled as multiple fatal injuries as a result of a road traffic collision.
“Once the aquaplaning commenced there is no chance of the vehicle being resecured”