Rustington death crash couple were returning from holiday

Picture by Eddie Mitchell SUS-141025-081936001
Picture by Eddie Mitchell SUS-141025-081936001

A husband and wife were killed when their car left the road on the way back from a holiday to the Cotswolds.

Robert O’Keeffe, 69, of Cheam Road, Rustington, was driving the couples’ Toyota Avensis on the A280 at Long Furlong at Patching, when it collided with a Ford Ranger pick-up on October 24, 2014.

His wife, Janice, 70, was in the passenger seat.

An inquest into their death was held at Edes House in Chichester on August 3.

Coroners’ officer Lyn Ralfe read a statement on behalf of Christine Ford, Janice’s sister.

She said: “We were very good friends. Their loss has been greatly felt and there is a huge gap in our lives now.

“Janice did a lot of walking and keep fit.

“She and Robert had been on holiday in the Cotswolds.

“They had stopped at our house for lunch – it was a nice halfway stop for them.

“They took in rescue dogs. They had a rescue dog with them. It was harnessed in the back and survived the accident.”

Kevin O’Keeffe said his brother Robert had worked all his life in the motor trade and even owned a vintage car.

PC Andrew Slark, forensic collision investigator, said the Toyota, which was travelled southbound had ‘catastrophic damage’.

He said there were no problems with the Toyota, the weather conditions were clear and there was no sign of excessive or harsh braking.

“The cause of the collision lies with the passage of the Toyota,” he told the court.

“The loss of control came about as a direct result of Mr O’Keeffe’s actions. I do not believe that the other driver could have taken any action to avert this.”

He added Mr O’Keeffe could have had a medical episode at the wheel.

Results of a postmortem showed Mr O’Keeffe died from head injuries, and Mrs O’Keeffe died from multiple injuries.

Penelope Schofield, coroner for West Sussex, recorded a conclusion that the couple died in a Road Traffic Collision.

She said: “For some reason – whether it was a medical event or a momentary lack of concentration the car crossed over into the pathway of the Ford Ranger.

“Tragically they both died at the scene.”

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