Mummy blogger, 29, did not ‘deliberately’ swerve car into HGV

Coroner ‘can’t rule out possibility’ that mummy blogger, 29, ‘deliberately’ veered family car into on-coming HGV – killing herself and three of her four children – after rowing with husband

  • Zoe Powell, was killed with Amelia, four, and Phoebe, eight, and son Simeon, six
  • Their silver Subaru collided with a HGV on the A40 near Oxford on October 12
  • Daughter Penny and husband Josh survived, although he has lost memory
  • Senior coroner Darren Salter said he did ‘not consider it likely’ it was deliberate
  • Mrs Powell was driving the car when it swerved in front of lorry without warning 

The husband of a mother killed in a horror crash with her three children said today ‘the actions of a single moment have wrecked an entire family’.

Artist and mummy blogger Zoe Powell, 29, accidentally swerved their car into the path of a 36-ton lorry after a weekend spent arguing with her husband.

An inquest heard today that Mr Powell decided to drop their four children off at their grandparents’ Worcester home because he had to work in Bristol on October 10.

Two days later he and his wife went to pick them up after having dinner.

Mrs Powell – said to ‘not overly enjoy driving’ – drove the family back in their silver Subaru when the accident happened at 9.53pm on the A40 overbridge at Wolvercote, towards Oxford. 

Her husband, who spent months in hospital, says he has no memory of the crash. The inquest heard that distraction, fatigue or driver error may have caused Mrs Powell to swerve  – but the coroner added ‘I can’t rule out the possibility it was a deliberate act’.

In a statement from Mr Powell and other relatives after the inquest today, he said: ‘Whilst there is much that we will never fully understand about the crash, it is helpful to comprehend some of the potential explanations of what led to it.

‘We thank the police, coroner and crash investigators for their hard work and thoroughness in it all.

‘The possibility that such a small distraction may have caused such a horrific accident should act as a painful reminder for everyone that roads are dangerous places; the actions of a single moment have wrecked an entire family and had a lasting impact on everyone around them.

‘Whilst it may be unpleasant to conceive, there is not a single driver who has not been in a similar situation but by luck alone they have avoided a serious crash.’

Consultant pathologist Professor Ian Roberts confirmed the mother-of-four and her eight-year-old daughter Phoebe had died instantly from multiple injuries, while Amelia and six-year-old Simeon died in John Radcliffe Hospital.

Mr Powell survived and their 15-month-old Penny was ejected from the people carrier during the crash but survived the ordeal.  

There was no CCTV or dashcam footage of the accident but following her tragic death, telephone analysis revealed Zoe had been dealing with a marital argument before her death and had suffered ‘broken sleep’ over the weekend.

A photo of Mrs Powell and her children released by her family after the inquest's concluded

A photo of Mrs Powell and her children released by her family after the inquest's concluded

A photo of Mrs Powell and her children released by her family after the inquest’s concluded

Zoe Powell, 29, with Phoebe, eight, Simeon, six, Amelia, four, and her husband Joshua, 30. The couple also have an 18-month-old daughter Penny - not pictured - who survived the crash

Zoe Powell, 29, with Phoebe, eight, Simeon, six, Amelia, four, and her husband Joshua, 30. The couple also have an 18-month-old daughter Penny - not pictured - who survived the crash

Zoe Powell, 29, with Phoebe, eight, Simeon, six, Amelia, four, and her husband Joshua, 30. The couple also have an 18-month-old daughter Penny – not pictured – who survived the crash

Zoe Powell, was killed alongside daughters Amelia, four, and Phoebe, eight, and son Simeon, six, when their silver Subaru collided with a HGV on the A40 near Oxford

Zoe Powell, was killed alongside daughters Amelia, four, and Phoebe, eight, and son Simeon, six, when their silver Subaru collided with a HGV on the A40 near Oxford

Zoe Powell, was killed alongside daughters Amelia, four, and Phoebe, eight, and son Simeon, six, when their silver Subaru collided with a HGV on the A40 near Oxford

Investigating officer PC Lyndsey Blackaby said: ‘She appeared to have been awake at 6am on October 12.

‘Zoe was a much-loved and active member of the community, clearly devoted to her four children, her marriage and her faith.’

Today sitting in the inquest was heartbroken Mr Powell, his parents Kevin and Sue and his late wif’s father John Milroy. Appearing over video link was Zoe’s aunt Diana, her mother Vivienne and her devastated brother.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Powell said: ‘On October 10 I was looking after my four children due to my wife suddenly leaving the house after an argument. I was due to drive to work in Bristol so I drove the children to my parents’ house in Worcester.

‘We went to collect the children on October 12, I had worked the day shift in Barking. We drove to get the children and that is my last recollection, being at my parents house in the evening….my next memory is six to seven days after the collision.

‘I would normally drive at night, Zoe had passed her test in 2010 but she did not overly enjoy driving, she only did it to get from A to B. Zoe would find driving stressful…she mostly drove locally but two to three times a month she would drive further afield.

Zoe Powell, 29, with her daughter Phoebe, eight, who were both killed by the car crash

Zoe Powell, 29, with her daughter Phoebe, eight, who were both killed by the car crash

Zoe Powell, 29, with her daughter Phoebe, eight, who were both killed by the car crash

The Powell children who died in the tragedy last year, Simeon, Phoebe and Amelia

The Powell children who died in the tragedy last year, Simeon, Phoebe and Amelia

The Powell children who died in the tragedy last year, Simeon, Phoebe and Amelia

Our Family: tribute from relatives today

‘The conclusion of the police investigation and the publication of the coroner’s inquest bring closure to what has been a very difficult part of the wider family’s lives.

‘Whilst there is much that we will never fully understand about the crash, it is helpful to comprehend some of the potential explanations of what led to it.

‘We thank the police, coroner and crash investigators for their hard work and thoroughness in it all.

‘The possibility that such a small distraction may have caused such a horrific accident should act as a painful reminder for everyone that roads are dangerous places; the actions of a single moment have wrecked an entire family and had a lasting impact on everyone around them.

‘Whilst it may be unpleasant to conceive, there is not a single driver who has not been in a similar situation but by luck alone they have avoided a serious crash.

‘Driving is not as safe as we sometimes wish it was. We all have a duty to always drive to the best of our abilities and ensure that we keep the roads as safe as possible.

‘As a family we encourage the wider public to learn from our heartbreak and please make sure they make the right choices when driving on the road.

‘It is hard to find the words to pay tribute to the loss we have suffered. We are very grateful that Zoe, Phoebe, Simeon and Amelia carried themselves excited by the joy of life.

‘In doing so they have left us with an abundance of happy memories that we can reflect back on fondly. The memories of past joy balance the reality that we will make no more memories together and it is hard to escape the wondering of what life would be like if they were still here.

‘We miss them all greatly but are very glad of the times we had together, and as Christians we find rest knowing that their experience in heaven with Christ surpass anything they knew on earth.

‘We have been touched by the depth of support and generosity that has been provided by friends, family, the church and wider community. This has carried us through some very difficult times.

‘We’d like to thank everyone who has wrapped their arms around us and supported us physically, financially and emotionally.

‘Our thoughts go to those who were at the crash scene that bore witness to this horrific accident, especially the lorry driver.

‘As a family we hold no ill feelings and hold no responsibility towards him, we recognise that none of his actions led to the accident.

‘Our hope is for peace for all who have been troubled by the collision and its aftermath. By the grace of God, Josh and Penny have survived this horrific crash with amazingly minimal long term physical impairment.

‘This is in no small part thanks to the public at the crash itself, the hard work of the emergency services and those within the NHS who provided treatments.

‘As we have learnt more of the events before and after the accident, we are blown away by the depth of humanity shown by the emergency services and the huge effort they made to try to save everyone, especially Simeon and Amelia.

‘We have witnessed first-hand the hard work that has gone into Josh and Penny’s treatment, and seen the amazing transformation in restoring their ability to live life.

‘We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved who has worked to not only help Josh & Penny survive but give them their lives back.

‘The family wish to thank the press for respecting our privacy up to this point, this space has helped us grieve and process the horrific events.

‘We hope that this respect continues as everyone involved tries to rebuild.’

 

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‘I brought the multimac rear seat in the summer of 2019, I brought it second hand and installed it myself. All the children travelled well, they would bicker between themselves and they would always sit in the same seats.’

Today the coroner heard how the infant’s seat had not been strapped in properly, allowing baby Penny to be ejected from the car from the force of the collision.

The court heard how the family had been driving along the A40 towards Oxford when it ‘swerved violently’ into the path of a Spanish goods vehicle weighing 36 tonnes.

Lorry driver Adao Patricio – who had been driving at 42mph at the time of the crash and was uninjured – said: ‘The car was less than one lorry’s length away from me when it changed direction and crossed into my lane.. It came across very quickly, it came at me so fast I did not have time to break.’

Following a collision investigation, PC Murray Maclean speculated the reasons that Mrs Powell could have swerved into the path of an oncoming lorry, which included fatigue and distraction which may have affected her steering.

However, he concluded there was insufficient evidence to back up these theories. PC Maclean added: ‘There were no defects that would have contributed to the collision, no trace of alcohol or drugs in Mrs Powell, no evidence that she suffered from any medical episode.

‘I find no evidence that could account of this definitive action on her part.’

Senior coroner Darren Salter recorded a cause of death by Road Traffic Collision.

He said: ‘There is no evidence that this was a deliberate act but as the collision investigator says there is nothing to rule out this as a possibility, I have to at least consider it.

‘There had been arguments that weekend between Zoe and Josh there were relationship issues being worked, through I’ve seen evidence of telephone messages.

‘Zoe appears positive and displays a positive attitude in her last messages, there is no evidence in the messaging or any other evidence that Zoe had thoughts of harming herself or the children.

‘I can’t rule out the possibility it was a deliberate act as the collision investigator says, but I do not consider it likely. It’s more likely to be due to fatigue or distraction, or a combination of the two, and that the steering input was driver error. The cruise control was engaged and at the last moment that accelerator was pressed in error instead of the brake which is a phenomenon sometimes seen.

‘At around 9.50pm on October 12 last year, Zoe Powell was driving her family east towards oxford on the A40 overbridge at Wolvercote when the car crashed onto the wrong side of the road and collided with an oncoming lorry resulting in the deaths of Zoe Powell and her children, Phoebe, Simeon and Amelia.’

The mother-of-four who was killed in the fatal collision ran two companies, one where she sold story books and Biblical paper goods, and another where she sold a diary to help new mothers cope. Her company website featured a heartwarming family portrait where she could be seen cuddling in a tree with three of her children and her husband.

Zoe Rose Powell ran Zoe Prose and The Mama Book, two online companies where she marketed her artistic talents and colourful designs, neighbours confirmed. She also had a controlling interest in Skylark and Hare Ltd., a company focused on artistic creation the construction of railways, which her husband, Joshua Kevin Powell, was the director of. The Mama Book company was part of Skylark and Hare Ltd.

Mrs Powell, on her The Mama Book website, said: ‘The mama book is a journal and community that was born out of my own need for a space- a physical place to write and focus and reflect on motherhood.

‘When I created this journal for myself I was feeling overwhelmed by the everyday demands of having three young children. One day in the middle of the craziness of having three 3 and unders underfoot I filled a notebook with all the thoughts about mothering that were filling up my head.

‘Since then I have used it daily, tweaked it and refined it. It is the space I wish I had been able to give myself when my first baby was born, and a space that I am continuing to use through each season of mothering.

‘The mama book is all about bringing you some mental space in the midst of motherhood. Giving you a reason to press pause, and a chance reflect on both your big dreams and also the minutiae of your day-to-day, so that you can head back out into each season of mothering with joy and purpose. It is about inspiring us to keep our eyes on both the small moments that matter and the bigger picture.’

References

  1. ^ Dan Sales For Mailonline (www.dailymail.co.uk)