Woman was crushed to death on driveway in freak accident

PUBLISHED: 15:35 04 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:18 06 May 2010

A FREAK accident led to the death of an elderly woman who became trapped under a car on her driveway. Barbara Towers, aged 88, of Willow Way, Chiswell Green, St Albans, died after she leaned in and started her car while it was in gear and it

A FREAK accident led to the death of an elderly woman who became trapped under a car on her driveway.

Barbara Towers, aged 88, of Willow Way, Chiswell Green, St Albans, died after she leaned in and started her car while it was in gear and it rolled over her outside her son-in-law’s house in nearby Watford Road, on February 29 this year.

At an inquest into her death this week, her son-in-law Robin Lemon explained that she had asked him to help her check her Daewoo's tyre pressures using an electric pump.

He plugged the device into the car cigarette lighter and went to attach it to one of the rear tyres. Mrs Towers asked if she could start the car and Mr Lemon replied yes as long as the car was in neutral.

But the car was in reverse and when Mrs Towers turned the key it jumped backwards and the open door knocked her over.

The handbrake had only been partially on and could not stop the car rolling over her leaving her trapped in its front suspension.

Mr Lemon was unable to free her so he called the emergency services which arrived at around 10.20am.

The fire brigade used airbags to lift the front of the car and free Mrs Towers but a doctor pronounced her dead at the scene.

A post-mortem revealed she had been suffocated and several of her ribs were broken as a result of the accident.

She also had several tumours in her lungs which Herts coroner Edward Thomas said would have made it even more difficult to breathe. But he pointed out that a laceration to the head indicated she was probably unconscious after the accident.

Mr Lemon told the inquest that his mother-in-law, who was a retired local government officer, was an amazing woman and that the family was very close to each other.

He said: "I just feel very sad that I could not save her. I am the first aider at work but I was on my own. I don't know how I got though the day."

Mr Thomas recorded a verdict of accidental death caused by suffocation with lung cancer as a contributory factor.

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