Young pub landlady “may have been distracted” in lead up to tragic crash court hears

Rebecca Wells EMN-141117-123301001
Rebecca Wells EMN-141117-123301001

A 20-year-old pub landlady tragically died when the Land Rover she was driving left the road and crashed into a beck, where she lay undiscovered for eight hours.

An inquest at Spilsby before Assistant Coroner Paul Smith, heard that Rebecca Wells, who was landlady of the Queen’s Head public house at North Kelsey Moor, died in the accident on November 11 last year.

Student Katy Wells, who had come to live with her sister at the pub just one week before, told the coroner in a written statement that Rebecca left the pub to go to the cash ‘n’ carry for provisions at about 8am.

A local resident, Leonard Peach, also in a written statement, said he had heard a loud bang when he was walking his dogs at around 8.15am but could not see anything that might have caused it and thought it might have been a lorry going by.

Later in the day, he was again out walking his dogs when he saw an oil film on the Cutley Beck in Station Road, North Kelsey, and when he returned home at about 3.20pm he telephoned the Environment Agency, who asked him to walk up the beck and try and see what was causing it.

When he did so he saw the black underside of a vehicle upside down in the beck and telephoned the police.

PC Schofield, of Market Rasen police, said in a written statement that he attended the scene at 3.42pm and could not see any vehicle from the road and was only able to see it when he searched on foot.

He said the vehicle, a white Land Rover Defender, was 15 to 20 feet below the road level and that most of the vehicle was under two feet of water, partially resting on the bank, by the Cutley Bridge.

He said there was no response from anyone inside and that the roof was crushed level with the bonnet, preventing him from opening the doors.

Fire Service officers attended and were able to see that there was someone inside but Miss Wells, who was the driver, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Accident investigator PC Stewart Cooke told the coroner that a tracking device on the Land Rover showed Miss Wells had driven for just 72 seconds before the collision and that there was evidence that the vehicle had hit the kerb at an angle of 10 degrees at “more of a gradual movement than a sudden change”.

He said the vehicle then hit the bridge, which was just 600 metres from her home, turned and then was airborne as it cleared the bank of the beck and hit the bank on the other side, ending up on its roof in the water.

He said there was no evidence of hard braking or swerving and he believed she may have been distracted.

He said that she was likely to have had only about half a second to react after the vehicle hit the kerb.

The coroner said the injuries suffered by Miss West were consistent with a road traffic collision and there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in her blood.

“It seems Miss Wells was unaware of her predicament until the last minute, if at all,” he said, “which suggests a last minute loss of control.”

“It is most likely she was momentarily distracted though by what remains a mystery,” he said.

He ruled that her death was a consequence of a road traffic collision