Neither driver nor passenger killed in A12 Essex crash had full licences, inquest hears

The A12 between Marks Tey and Stanway
The A12 between Marks Tey and Stanway. Credit: Google Streetview

A learner driver and passenger were killed in a crash on the A12 after swerving off the road and hitting a tree, an inquest has heard.

Teenager Abel Cortinas-Fueris was estimated to have been driving at around 70mph when the Volkswagen Fox crashed on the northbound carriageway in Essex.

The 19-year-old only had a provisional licence and no learner plates were displayed on the car, the inquest heard.

Det Con Alan Lamb, of Essex Police, told the inquest the driver also "wasn’t being properly supervised" since the passenger did not have a full licence either.

Mr Cortinas-Fueris and his passenger, Sheera Tinotenda Nyachega, 21, were both killed in the crash between Marks Tey and Stanway, at around 12.45pm on November 8, 2021.

Two other passengers travelling in the back of the car were taken to hospital with serious injuries but later recovered.

They had been driving in the third lane of the carriageway but, for "reasons unknown", left the road and collided with a tree.

The court heard that the car had "violently swerved to the left at high speed" when the car began to rotate. The vehicle travelled sideways for a distance before it hit the tree.

Det Con Lamb, the investigating officer of the crash, told the inquest the weather had been "fine and dry" at the time of the crash and that the "sun position was not likely to be a factor in the incident".

The court heard that on approach to the crash site, the A12 is straight for a mile with no fixed obstructions that could hinder the driver's view. The road markings were also in good condition and the road was in a "good state of repair" at the time of the crash.

Det Con Lamb confirmed that tests were undertaken on the Volkswagen Fox following the crash, which showed that a rear tyre was only inflated to 8 PSI. The recommended inflation by the manufacturer of the vehicle is 28 PSI.

The court heard that the under-inflated tyre was "unlikely to cause the vehicle to deviate but any harsh and sudden steering input may introduce lateral movement of the vehicle".

Mechanically, there were no faults or defects on the car that could have contributed to the crash, Det Con Lamb said.

The inquest was told it could not be confirmed why there was "such an extreme steering input", but Det Con Lamb outlined possibilities including another occupant of the vehicle grabbing the steering wheel, a medical episode or a lapse in concentration. He added that a "lack of driving experience may have contributed to the incident".

Following the crash, Det Con Lamb obtained medical notes from Colchester General Hospital, which stated that Mr Cortinas-Fueris had been admitted to the hospital a month before following five seizures which each lasted a minute.

Upon arrival at the hospital, he had another seizure but did not have any diagnosed medical conditions.

He was advised to remain in hospital for 24 to 48 hours for tests and told not to operate heavy machinery or drive anywhere for up to 6 months following the seizures. However, the 19-year-old discharged himself at 9am the same day, and signed a form which said he had refused to accept medical advice.

However, the court heard that there was "no suggestion that Abel was unconscious or having a seizure at the time of the crash".

Post-mortem examinations found both victims died from "multiple fatal injuries" and that toxicological samples were clear.

Area Coroner for Essex, Michelle Brown, said that "we know [Abel] swerved, but why, we simply do not know".

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