Car enthusiast describes moment wife was killed in ‘freak’ beach buggy accident

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A classic car enthusiast has described the moment his wife was killed in a ‘freak accident’ when her scarf became entangled in the wheel of their open-top beach buggy.

Gillian Sandle, 62, was the passenger in the Volkswagen Beetle-style kit car, driven by her husband, Roy, when the accident happened in Havant town centre on December 18 last year.

An inquest in Portsmouth heard the couple, from Hayling Island, had visited a classic car show in Selsey, West Sussex, that morning before going to Havant to pick up some mince pies on the ‘incredibly cold’ day.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Sandle, who was too distressed to attend the hearing, described how he heard a bang as he pulled away from a give way junction.

The former bus driver said: ‘I was still talking to Gill, she always looked out for oncoming vehicles for me.

‘Almost immediately I felt a bang within the buggy, I couldn’t understand what it was as I knew there were no cars around to have hit me.

As a family we’re totally devastated at the sudden and tragic loss of such a wonderful lady.

Gillian Sandle’s family

‘Gill had not shouted out or screamed, that was when I looked around and saw Gill slumped to her left side in her seat.

‘My first thought was she had a diabetic fit, not that she had ever had one before, although she was diagnosed with diabetes some years ago.

‘That was the only reason for her to be in that position. I reached out to touch her and called her name but there was no response.’

Sgt Melanie Adcock, of Hampshire police, said that members of the public and paramedics carried out CPR on Mrs Sandle but she was declared dead at hospital.

She said that Mrs Sandle’s scarf was found in the road, and added: ‘It seems more than likely that her scarf had become entangled in the near side rear wheel, causing fatal injuries to Mrs Sandle’s neck.’

Sgt Adcock said that the vehicle had been kept in good condition by Mr Sandle, who also owns a 1930 Ford Model A and added: ‘He has never seen the vehicle since, he wanted it disposed of immediately.’

Pathologist Dr Adnan Al-Badri said the cause of death was severe neck injuries.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, assistant coroner Lincoln Brookes said of Mr and Mrs Sandle: ‘They had been out for a nice day out to a classic car show at Selsey Bill and they did so in their pride and joy, the beach buggy, and they returned back to Havant and a trip to Iceland to see if they had any mince pies.’

He added: ‘This is a relatively unheard of incident, it’s right to describe this as a very unfortunate freak accident.

‘When driving a vehicle with exposed moving parts, care should be taken so any items of clothing, backpacks, straps, do not come into contact with moving parts.’

Mrs Sandle’s family said in a statement: ‘As a family we’re totally devastated at the sudden and tragic loss of such a wonderful lady.’