A PREVENTION of Future Death report will be written to a Government-sponsored agency, it was announced at the conclusion of an inquest into the “tragically unique” death of a 25 year-old woman.

Rebecca Alice Quail, a teacher at Sandgate School in Kendal, died in a road traffic collision on the A6 in March 2017. A trailer disconnected from a van driving in the northbound carriageway, rolled into the southbound lane and hit Miss Quail’s car.

Having considered the evidence from earlier in the inquest, including that presented by a team of experts, coroner Kirsty Gomersal concluded that the trailer had become detached due to the presence of a “foreign object” inside its hitching mechanism. It had prevented the mechanism from securing properly. This was in addition to the “unique conditions” of the A6 - in terms of gradient, curvature of bend and topography - where the incident occurred.

Miss Gomersal said that these circumstances made Miss Quail’s death “tragically unique”, adding that the experts who gave evidence at the inquest, despite having collected experience amounting “conservatively to 100 years,” had never before come across a foreign object in a hitch.

She added that a number of steps had been taken by concerned parties to help improve safety in future. For example:

-Indespension, who manufactured the trailer (and the attached hitch), have placed stickers on their hitches to remind people to visually check that they were properly connected.

-TK Gallagher (TKG), for whom Stewart Hamilton, who was driving the van, worked, has implemented checks of its trailers every six instead of 12 weeks, and has provided employees with updates, reminders, and presentations about the incident.

-Cumbria Constabulary is also arranging road safety days to publicise the inquest findings and educate users and operating companies, and will incorporate the findings into the specialist training of new officers.

While acknowledging these steps, Miss Gomersal expressed concern “that there may be operators - both personal and professional - who may not be aware of the possibility of a foreign object and the importance of vigilance in performing available safety checks.”

She said that she would therefore produce a Prevention of Future Death report for the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency, raising a variety of concerns. Examples include the possibility that a foreign object may enter a tow hitch coupling; the potential for this to prevent it from fully securing, which may not be apparent during a visual inspection; and the apparent lack of national guidance on inspections and checks.