A40 fatal collision: inquest heard mother may have been tired and distracted

A mother who died in a car crash in Oxfordshire last October may have been tired and distracted at the time, an inquest has heard. Credit: Thames Valley Police

A mother who died in a car crash in Oxfordshire last October may have been tired and distracted at the time, an inquest has heard.

Zoe Powell and her family were travelling along the A40 in their people carrier when it collided with a lorry. Due of Covid, the hearing was held remotely.

The collision happened on the A40 near Wolvercote around 9.50pm on the 12th October last year. Tributes poured out after the deaths of mother Zoe Powell and her three oldest children - Phoebe, Simeon and Amelia, who were 8, 6 and 4.

The Powells were heading back to their home in Chinnor after having collected the children from their grandparents.

In the final seconds before the collision, evidence showed Mrs Powell, who was driving, swerved directly into the path of an oncoming lorry, leaving the driver no time to react. 



The inquest heard Zoe Powell had suffered from postnatal depression and had spent much of the weekend prior to the crash arguing with her husband. However, her final text messages were positive, and she had never shown any intention of harming her children.

Today, the coroner focussed on why Mrs Powell would have steered her family to their deaths. He concluded that there were no defects to the vehicles or road and while he couldn't rule out a deliberate act, he said it more likely a combination of fatigue and a distraction caused the 29-year-old to swerve and hit the accelerator instead of the brake.

Husband Joshua Powell and youngest daughter Penny were the only survivors of the collision.

The collision happened on the A40 near Wolvercote around 9.50pm on the 12th October last year. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The family issued a statement. It read, "The possibility that such a small distraction may have caused such a horrific accident should act as a painful reminder for everyone that roads are dangerous places; the actions of a single moment have wrecked an entire family and had a lasting impact on everyone around them."