Chinnor family died after car struck lorry on A40, inquest hears

A MUM and her three children died after she steered the family car into the path of a fully-laden lorry.

Driver Zoe Powell, 29, and children Phoebe, eight, Simeon, six, and Amelia, four, died after their Subaru was involved in a crash with a Renault 480 lorry on the A40 near Wolvercote on Monday, October 12, 2020.

Recording a conclusion of death following a road traffic collision, senior coroner Darren Salter said there was no evidence to suggest that Mrs Powell had deliberately swerved the Subaru into the lorry. He could not rule out fatigue or distraction as factors that contributed to the crash.

Mrs Powell, who blogged about motherhood on site The Mama Book, and daughter Phoebe were pronounced dead at the scene. Amelia was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital but died later that evening. Simeon was pronounced dead at hospital in the early hours of the following morning.

Josh Powell, the children’s father, survived the crash along with the couple’s 18-month-old daughter Penny, who was thrown from the vehicle.

The investigating officer, PC Lyndsey Blackaby, described Mrs Powell as a much loved, respected and active member of the community. She was ‘clearly devoted’ to her four children, her marriage and her faith.

The crash occured on the A40 bridge over the railway and canal near Wolvercote Source: GOOGLE

An inquest at Oxford[1] Coroner’s Court this morning heard that the Powell family, who lived in Chinnor, were on their way home from Josh Powell’s parents’ home in Worcestershire when the crash occurred.

Mr Powell had taken the couple’s four children to stay with their grandparents on Saturday, March 10, as Mrs Powell had left the house following an argument with her husband – a railway worker – and he would be working in Bristol.

The children stayed in Worcestershire until Monday evening. They were picked up by both parents and strapped into a specialist car seat, a Multimac, allowing all four children to sit beside each other on the back seat.

Tributes left outside Chinnor Community Church in the wake of the tragedy Picture: PA WIRE

Portuguese lorry driver Adao Patricio was driving towards Witney[2] on the A40 at around 9.50pm when the Subaru swerved into his lane on the bridge over the railway and canal.

“I had nowhere to go. The car came across into my side of the road very quickly,” he said. The fully-laden lorry, which weighed 36 tonnes, was driving at around 42mph.

Mr Powell said he had no recollection of the crash. His last memory was being at his parents’ home.

Checks of the car and lorry revealed no defects that would have contributed to the collision. The Subaru’s internal computer showed the steering wheel had been turned to the right then to the left seconds before the crash.

The cruise control was switched on and, shortly before the crash, the accelerator pedal was pushed down. The coroner said this was done in error instead of the brake.

The Multimac system was fixed in place with only one of two restraining straps, although it could not be said that that contributed to the fatalities.

Offering his own condolences, Mr Salter said: “This is obviously a tragic event which we are dealing with today at this inquest and I know how difficult it will be to attend.”

A crowdfunding page[3] set up in the wake of the tragedy by Mr Powell’s colleague raised more than £162,000.

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