Fatal car crash on A17 proved ‘unavoidable’

Laura Pesterfield, a care worker at the White Gables Nursing Home, Kirton.
Laura Pesterfield, a care worker at the White Gables Nursing Home, Kirton.

A lorry driver had no chance of avoiding a collision on the A17 which resulted in the death of a care worker at a Kirton nursing home, a coroner has ruled.

An inquest into the death of Laura Pesterfield (21), of Wyberton Road, Boston, was held in King’s Lynn yesterday after a fatal accident in Terrington St Clements a few days before Christmas 2015.

A statement from Paul Gallacha, the driver of a 40ft articulated lorry involved in the collision, was read out at the inquest which said: “I saw the Astra appear in front of me in my lane and then it just rolled out in front of me, but the driver did not look towards me.”

Mr Gallacha said he had “reacted instinctively” but could not avoid a collision.

He added: “I keep analysing this to see if I had done the right thing, but I literally had a split second to react.”

Mr Gallacha also said that he had been badly affected by the trauma which required time off work and a need for counselling.

Witness Susan Austin, who was driving a car immediately behind the lorry, said that she saw the Astra pull out in front of it.

“I am sure the lorry driver would not have had time to break,” Miss Austin said.

“He did well to control his lorry after he went into the car.”

Another witness, Lewis Ngantu of Terrington St Clements, said: “I was in a car behind the Astra and saw it pulling into the carriageway at the same time as a big lorry was there.

“It happened instantly, it was a massive impact and there was a fair bit of debris thrown around the carriageway.”

A post-mortem examination had found no drugs or alcohol in the body of Miss Pesterfield, a care worker at the White Gables Nursing Home, Kirton, who died of multiple injuries.

PC Graham Brookes of Norfolk Constabulary confirmed that no mechanical defects had been found on either the Astra or the lorry that would have contributed to the accident.

He also said that Mr Gallacha would have had less than a second to react to the car pulling out in front of him, before adding: “The collision was unavoidable.“

Norfolk coroner Jacquline Lake, in recording a verdict of death by road traffic collision, said she “was satisfied that there was nothing that Mr Gallacha could do to avoid the collision”.