A driver was on the phone to his mum wishing her a merry Christmas immediately before a crash which claimed his life and that of a Melton mum-of-two - an inquest has heard.
The double tragedy happened on the A606 Oahham Road, about three kilometres north west of Langham, just before 9am on Christmas Day.
Lynda Wade (48), of Melton, was travelling to work in Oakham in her Ford C-Max and Mark Price (51), of Rothley, was driving a Toyota Auris, heading from Oakham towards Melton, when the collision happened.
An inquest held in Loughborough yesterday (Wednesday) heard that Mr Price had drifted over into the wrong lane prior to impact.
Mr Price’s mum, Margaret, had told police officers that her son had called her on his iPhone moments before the crash.
The inquest heard: “He’d called her to wish her merry Christmas. There was then a pause and he just said ‘oh no’. Those were his last words to her. She then thought she heard an impact. She thought she was imagining it and then the phone went dead.”
Pc Adrian Carlyle, a collision investigator with Leicestershire Police, said it was unclear how Mr Price was using the mobile phone, whether it was on speaker or being used manually, at the time of the crash. But he told the inquest a set of headphones were recovered from the driver’s footwell and the phone had been placed on the dashboard.
He added: “I can’t discount that Mr Price was distracted while using a mobile phone or there was another form of distraction taking his attention off the road.”
Pc Carlyle said he believed Mr Price had failed to make the turn at the third ‘step’ of the road known locally as ‘the three step hill’, heading straight on as the road turns to the left.
He confirmed there were no defects on either of the vehicles involved which would have caused or contributed to the collision and estimated they were both travelling at between 50-60mph at the time of impact.
It was also his opinion that ground frost on the road wasn’t a contributory factor to the crash.
The inquest also heard from pathologist Dr Christopher Johnson that there was no evidence either driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of their deaths.
He said Mrs Wade had died of extensive chest injuries and Mr Price of head and chest injuries. Family members of both victims were told it was likely they would have been immediately unconscious and died very quickly.
Mrs Wade had opened a few presents with her family on Christmas Day morning before heading off to do a shift at Oakham’s out-of-hours service, where she worked as a receptionist, before tragedy struck.
She was well known to many having worked at numerous places over the years including as an accounts clerk at Pedigree Petfoods’ Waltham site and for Hallmark Consumer Services in Melton.
She also used to work at Melton’s King Edward VII School, starting out as a science technician and going on to manage its Innovation Centre.
Lynda also learned first aid while at the school and she put the wealth of knowledge she gained over many years to good use. She went on to establish her own business, PSE+ First Aid Training, which she ran from home, teaching schools and local companies across Leicestershire and Rutland, as well as teaching doctors basic life support.
Other roles Lynda assumed over the years include being a swimming teacher at Melton’s Waterfield Leisure Centre, helping the swimming club by speaking sign language to deaf swimmers, and working as an exam invigilator at King Edward VII and Long Field School (now Long Field Academy) in Melton.
Speaking to the Melton Times in January Lynda’s family described her as “such a warm and caring person who was enthusiastic about everything”, adding that she was “bubbly, had lots of friends and was full of drive.”
Lynda, who was a former Swallowdale and Sarson School pupil, also had a passion for music in her younger years, playing clarinet in an orchestra at Sarson as well as playing clarinet and guitar for a Melton band.
Mr Price, a talented chef who once worked for Mars Catering in Melton, where he travelled and worked for the company in the Middle East and Russia. had been due to marry his fiancee, Debbie Smyth, on January 17.
Miss Smyth described him as “one of those rare people who was liked by everyone he met” adding that he was “witty, sincere, compassionate, totally selfless” and had raised hundreds of pounds for charities such as Loros and the Air Ambulance.
Coroner Trevor Kirkman concluded that Mrs Wade and Mr Price had died as a result of a road traffic collision.
He added: “Any road traffic collision that results in death is tragic. This was a double tragic incident. That it occurred on Christmas Day makes it more poignant as there’s always going to be a constant reminder.
“I’d like to extend my sincere condolences to both families for your tragic loss.”