Mother and two children killed in self converted campervan

A mother and her two children were killed while travelling in their converted campervan back home from a family holiday, an inquest has heard.

Shirley Hunt, 44, was killed instantly along with daughter Ellie, nine, and five-year-old son Oliver after their campervan collided with a HGV parked in a lay-by.

Mrs Hunt and Ellie were sitting on benches fixed to the van wall in the living area where there were no safety belts.

The vehicle was not designed to carry rear passengers and there was no legal obligation to fit them.

Seatbelt legislation did not apply because the van was built as a commercial vehicle.

The other three were all wearing their seatbelts but Oscar was sitting where the back of the lorry trailer became embedded into the campervan, the court heard.

Husband Craig was driving and survived, as did their six-year-old son Brooklyn – though they were both seriously hurt when the tragedy happened on the A64 between York and Malton in North Yorkshire.

A front tyre blowout caused the former BT works van to skid into the HGV on August 24, 2021, the inquest was told.

The family were travelling home from a seaside break to Wensleydale in South Yorkshire, Northallerton Coroner’s Court in North Yorkshire.

Mr Hunt, a vehicle technician and former lorry driver, did not attend the hearing but said in a statement: “I could see the HGV parked up ahead.

“I suddenly heard an almighty bang – like an explosion.

“I felt the front tyre blow and the steering locked.

“The DAF is large and heavy – I tried to turn the steering wheel but could not. I braked hard but it did not react.”

Mr Hunt passed out as the front of the motor home crashed at 53mph into the rear of the trailer, which was legally parked within the lay-by.

The cab was crushed and the driver’s seat was pushed towards the steering column.

Mr Hunt added: “When I came around I thought it was water on my body – but it was blood. I was extremely distressed and sick with worry.

“I tried to release the boy but could not. I tried to push my way into the back to assist Shirley and Ellie but could not release them.

“I screamed for help. The police and ambulance arrived.”

Daf Excel HGV driver Alistair Thorpe said: “I was standing up in the cab. I heard a loud bang followed by a collision. I was thrown forwards. As I got dressed, I heard a man screaming.”

Mr Hunt, who was teetotal, was breath-tested at the scene for drugs and alcohol with the results being negative and he has been cleared of any blame over the crash,

A police investigation revealed there was hole in the front near side tyre, manufactured in 2002.

It was visible to the naked eye but the underlying damage the hole had caused to the structure of tyre was impossible to see.

Mr Hunt had applied emergency brakes but could not miss the HGV because the steering and braking systems were affected by the burst tyre.

Accident investigator TC Paddy Green, from North Yorkshire police, told the inquest: “There was no suggestion or evidence the manner of his driving was in any way inappropriate leading up to the collision.”

Coroner Alison Norton concluded all three deaths were due to a road traffic collision but added: “There is a wider point of public safety.

“I am concerned adults and children over three can travel in the rear of motor homes without seatbelts and there may be a risk of to life.”

She said she would be pressing the Department of Transport for action to address the problem.

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Oliver St.John March 9, 2024 at 6:04 am

Why would anyone drive any vehicle with kids (and adults) not in seatbelts? Didn’t end well for Princess Diana….

Kevin March 9, 2024 at 5:51 pm

i thought there was a new law regarding the maximum age of tyres on the front axle,(10 years)


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