Derbyshire woman died hitting lorry on A38 after swerve for “no apparent reason”

A 27-year-old Ripley woman - described as “just a really nice girl” - died after swerving “for no apparent reason” into the back of a lorry parked in a layby on the A38, an inquest heard.

By Ben McVay
Friday, 17th December 2021, 1:11 pm

Shavaughan MacKensie was driving home from work on the northbound carriageway when her ageing Renault Clio careered straight into the back of the Mercedes LGV near Coxbench.

An inquest at Derby Coroner’s Court was told the driver’s “first knowledge” of the crash was feeling “the impact of the vehicle”.

In a witness statement he described feeling the “whole lorry jolt forward” before getting out of the vehicle and dialling 999.

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Shavaughan MacKensie died at the scene when her ageing Renault Clio went straight into the back of a Mercedes LGV in an A38 layby near Coxbench. Photo illustrative only.

Assistant Coroner Sophie Lomas said a postmortem report found Shavaughan - a customer adviser at Severn Trent Water - died of multiple injuries and death would have been “instantaneous”.

The inquest heard while driving home from work in Derby around 6.15pm on February 9 the 27-year-old - described as “sociable and outgoing” - was seen to swerve and lose control, overturning at between 45 and 90 degrees into the layby before hitting the lorry.

PC Simpson told the inquest the front nearside tyre on Shavaughan’s Clio was “badly worn” due to defective suspension.

While work colleagues said she had reported multiple problems with the car.

Tragically, they described how she was “really excited” having ordered a new car - a Kia Picanto - in the weeks leading to her death.

However PC Simpson confirmed that mechanical issues with the car had merely “exacerbated” Shavaughan’s “extreme” reaction to an initial swerve.

Witness Jeremy Reddish, in a statement read out to the court, described being directly behind Shavaughan’s car the on the A38 before the crash.

Noting that her speed was slightly below 70mph and her driving was “perfect” before she swerved to the right, he said: “She veered back to the left - it was through she had just put the full lock on.

“She turned 90 degrees into the layby - there was a juggernaut parked up there.”

Another witness, courier driver Dominic Brookes, described seeing Shavaughan “completely lose control” – shooting into the layby at a 45 degree angle straight into the back of the lorry.

Toxicology tests found traces of MDMA in the 27-year-old’s urine - however the coroner said: “It’s important to note that it was in her urine and not in her blood.

“She was not under the influence of drugs at the time - it shows up in urine for longer than in blood.”

Giving her conclusion the coroner said: “We’ve heard that there’s no explanation for what appears to have been some loss of control on Shavaughan’s part.

“While there may be theories about what caused it there’s really no evidence about what caused Shavaughan to lose control on that day.

“The evidence suggests mechanical difficulties did not cause this accident - it suggests it certainly didn’t help.

“It’s clearly a very tragic case - Shavaughan was described by her colleagues in very positive terms.

“It’s all the more tragic that she was so excited about getting her new vehicle.”

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