THE huge emotional distress a young woman was under due to the end of a relationship contributed to her death in a car crash, a coroner has ruled.
Katie Haines had stopped eating and drinking properly in the days leading up to her death on September 2 last year, following a split with her boyfriend.
The 18-year-old nursery apprentice died from massive head injuries when her car hit a crash barrier on the Paulsgrove slip road of the eastbound M27.
At an inquest into her death at Portsmouth Guildhall yesterday coroner David Horsley heard that several motorists saw Miss Haines, of Partridge Gardens, Wecock, carry out a smooth manoeuvre across three lanes towards the slip road but hit the barrier.
Witnesses – including off-duty police officers – described being shocked that she did not make it as she was driving well and had made no erratic moves.
Her car flipped over and ended up almost 90ft away from the point of impact before rolling down the verge and landing back on the motorway.
Miss Haines, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle and was killed.
Giving evidence, pathologist Dr Adnan al-Badri said there were no drugs or alcohol in her system but acetone was found – a naturally occurring chemical in the body caused by fasting.
Dr al-Badri said it can have a ‘significant’ affect on perception and can cause dizziness, drowsiness and headaches.
Miss Haines’ father, David, explained that his daughter had recently split up from her ‘controlling’ boyfriend which had left her devastated.
He said she was eating and drinking so little she passed out on the morning of the crash and colleagues described her as being ‘inconsolable’ at work that day.
Around an hour before the crash the former couple had had a huge argument at Farlington Marshes and bystanders had stepped in.
Mr Haines said: ‘The only other person who knows what happened was her boyfriend, and he has done nothing but lie.’
He added: ‘The biggest thing that really upset her was what she found out he was doing online and she could not handle it.
‘She felt he had humiliated her.’
Mr Haines said her family have no idea why she was on that stretch of motorway but she was a responsible driver who would not have dreamed, under normal circumstances, not to have worn a seat belt.
He said she never took risks or acted impulsively.
The inquest heard Miss Haines sent a text at 9.07pm to her former boyfriend which read ‘No in going to dye for ya’ (sic).
But she was not using the phone at the time of the crash – 9.30pm.
After hearing the evidence Mr Horsley said he had considered whether Miss Haines had hit the barrier deliberately.
But, although it is a possibility, he believes it would have been out of character because she was a responsible young woman.
He said: ‘Katie had a very bad emotional argument with her boyfriend.
‘She was so upset she drove off not knowing why or where she was going because of what was on her mind.
‘She found herself on a motorway and tried to get off, not thinking straight because of the emotional state she was in, and she has misjudged the manoeuvre.’
He added: ‘I have to conclude that Katie died due to an accident and she was in no way intending to harm herself.
‘There was so much whirling round her mind.’
Mr Horsley commended several members of the public, including an off-duty nurse, who stopped to help Miss Haines.