Tragic death of teen was an accident

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THE family of a Morecambe teenager who died in a motorway accident have been raising money for the neo-natal unit at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Hayley McMinn, 19, whose Ford Ka spun off the M6 and plunged over an embankment, was intending to have a child for her sister Laura, who may not be able have children, before her tragic death.

Hayley, of Low Road, Middleton, was not discovered for an hour after the incident in the early hours of July 24, on the M6 southbound between junction 33 and 32 at Barnacre, near Lancaster.

She was one and a half times the drink drive limit and not wearing a seatbelt, an inquest heard.

Deputy Coroner Simon Jones said it was “incomprehensible” that coach driver David Robinson, who saw Hayley’s car leave the motorway about a quarter of a mile ahead of him, did not think to contact emergency services.

Mr Robinson told the inquest: “I couldn’t be sure that there had been an accident.”

It wasn’t until another driver, David Morley, noticed the car in a field at around 4.45am, called police and then crossed the motorway on foot to investigate, that Hayley’s body was discovered.

The inquest heard that on the night before her death Hayley was working at the Mint Bar and Cafe in Church Street, Lancaster, and had stopped behind after work for staff drinks.

Stuart Powers, former manager at Mint Bar, said Hayley, who was also a hairdresser at Lancaster’s Jo and Cass, had drunk between two and three double vodkas, and intended to go out into the city afterwards.

As far as he and other staff members knew, Hayley, who was described as charismatic and full of life by her parents Joseph and Alison during the inquest, had planned to stay with a friend.

At 3am, she left her friends and colleagues, and at 3.22am, one of her colleagues, Michael Bates, called her and she reassured him she would not be driving.

At 3.17am, Hayley had called her boyfriend Jason Barraclough and told him she was setting off to see him in Burnley.

Hayley’s Ford Ka was last captured on CCTV leaving Lancaster towards J34 at around 3.33am.

The inquest heard that Hayley and Mr Barraclough had been exchanging text messages, the last being delivered to Hayley’s phone at 3.38am.

PC Stephen Burgess, from the motorway accident investigation unit at Samlesbury, said the incident had occured at around 3.40am.

A police investigation concluded that the car had run up onto the grass in the central reservation of the motorway, and had then veered quickly left, causing the vehicle to spin 180 degrees and flip over up the embankment, damaging a wooden fence with its roof, and coming to rest at the other side.

The impact caused Hayley to be thrown through the driver’s window of the vehicle.

Dr Deepa Jacob, consultant pathologist at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, said that internal injuries, with the contributing factor of alcohol consumption, caused Hayley’s death.

She also added that Hayley’s injuries were unsurvivable, even if she had been treated earlier.

Mr Jones, who recorded a verdict of accidental death at Lancaster Magistrates Court on Friday said: “Wearing a seatbelt is well known and has been established as a major factor of road safety.

“Similarly the dangers of excess alcohol are well known and well understood.

“Dangers of the use of mobile phones are well know but less understood.

“I cannot be certain that text messages played a part in this, but there’s strong evidence to suggest they may well have done.

“One does have to wonder how the message is ever going to get across that the use of mobile phones while driving is not only illegal but extremely dangerous.

“I can’t be sure how she lost control, but she did, and she suffered serious injuries that proved fatal.”

Hayley’s mum Alison said that family and friends were raising money to provide a new incubation unit at the RLI, and had organised a sponsored bungee jump, had been selling charity wristbands, and were organising a charity 21st birthday party for Hayley next year.

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