Inquest opens into death of great-grandad after Lakes road crash

Matthew Townsend's family say he "always had a smile and a twinkle in his eye". Credit: Cumbria Police

An inquest has been formally opened into the death of a Penrith great-grandfather who died in hospital more than a fortnight after a collision involving a car on a Lakes road.

Matthew Townsend, aged 88 and from Penrith, was remembered by relatives who paid tribute after the tragedy as a man who "always had a smile and a twinkle in his eye".

Mr Townsend had been married for 55 years, was a father, grandfather and great-granddad who was said to have "enjoyed life".

He had been born and raised in Paisley, moving to Penrith almost 60 years ago. 

"We as a family have lost a huge character from all of our lives who we loved dearly. He will be missed more than he would know," they said in a statement.

Police had said the collision involved a red Honda Civic and occurred on the A591 at the pass of Dunmail Raise at around 7.50pm on 10 August. No other people were injured in the incident.

An inquest into Mr Townsend’s death — at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary — was opened this morning in Cockermouth by Assistant Cumbria Coroner Dr Nicholas Shaw.

Dr Shaw noted Mr Townsend had been taken to hospital following the collision, where it was established he had suffered fractured ribs, sternum and three vertebrae. There was also concern over an internal bleed.

Mr Townsend was admitted to the high dependency unit where he began to appear to recover from his injuries, the hearing was told.

"It seems then that he has picked up an infection and also tested positive for Covid. At this stage it is believed that his organs began to fail and on 27 August he died in the infirmary," said Dr Shaw.

Evidence of identification had been provided by Mr Townsend’s son.

Dr Shaw concluded: "Since the death appears to have resulted from a traumatic event, an inquest is clearly required."

No post mortem evidence was presented at today’s hearing, which was adjourned to a provisional date of 12 January 2023.

Police had previously issued an appeal for information following the collision, seeking to trace a group of motorcyclists who were in the area at the time, or any witnesses who may have seen the incident or arrived at the scene immediately afterwards.

Anyone with information can report it online here quoting incident number 226 of 10 August, or call 101.