Death by careless driving convictions after car without fuel struck by lorry on M25
A woman died after the car she was travelling in ran out of fuel and was struck by a lorry.
Laura Cooper was sitting in the back seat of a Nissan Note, which had broken down on the M25 between junctions 26 and 27 near Epping at about 1.55am on March 29, 2016.
The driver, her cousin Tammy Langton, had positioned the car over to the nearside crash barrier and partially in the first lane of the motorway. She put the hazard lights on when it stopped.
The Nissan had been stationary for no more than 18 seconds when it was struck from behind by a Scania heavy goods lorry, driven by Anthony Cheshire. The car hit the crash barrier and rotated down the side of the lorry and trailer.
Miss Cooper, 34, from Leicester, was taken to the Royal London Hospital but sadly died on April 2, 2016.
Langton and the front seat passenger, a 17-year-old girl from Kidbrooke in London, were taken to hospital. Both suffered serious injuries, with the teenager needing metal rods inserted into her back.
The court heard the trio had travelled from Blackheath in London to Leicester on March 28 and Langton had fuelled the car in Blackheath.
The court heard from witness that they had shared a joint of cannabis before starting the journey and again during a rest stop.
Before leaving Leicester late that night, Langton had said she did not have enough petrol for the return trip to London. However none of them had any money nor asked anyone to borrow some and no more thought was given until the fuel light was activated.
The court heard it was the fourth journey she had made between the two cities in the previous fortnight and she was familiar with the route.
An examination of the Nissan following the collision found there was only 76ml of fuel in the tank.
Langton knew for some time that she was going to run out of petrol and chose to drive on an unlit part of the M25 where it was clearly marked there was no hard shoulder.
The court heard that at one point she said she needed to pull over but continued to drive for a further 16 minutes until it broke down.
The Nissan was in a condition where it was foreseeable it would run out of petrol and be stranded on the motorway, the jury was told.
However the court also heard that Cheshire had a clear road ahead of him for around 12 seconds and had ample time to avoid hitting the Nissan.
But he did not see it until his lorry was too close.
Cheshire, 63, of Reynards Coppice, Telford, was today (Thursday, February 1) found guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court of death by careless driving.
Langton, 32, unemployed, of Melthorpe Gardens, Blackheath, south east London, was found guilty of causing death by careless driving while over the specified cannabis drug limit.
They had previously denied the charges and trial commenced at the court on January 15.
Detective Inspector Scott Egerton, of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: “As police officers, we deal with too many sad cases in which people lose their lives on the roads and we know all too well the devastation this causes for the families they leave behind.
“The most tragic aspect of this particular case is that Laura Cooper’s death was entirely preventable.
“Tammy Langton knew she did not have enough petrol for the journey to London before even setting off. There were ample opportunities to stop at a petrol station, or exit the motorway before the car came to a complete stop.
“By allowing the car to run so low on fuel, her careless actions played a significant part in causing the collision.
“Anthony Cheshire’s actions directly resulted in the collision and injuries to the women in the Nissan, ultimately leading to Miss Cooper losing her life.
“This sequence of events has had a devastating impact on her family and all those involved in this case, and they must live with the consequences of what happened.
“As drivers, we must all take responsibility for ensuring our vehicles are roadworthy, that we drive according to the conditions of the roads and that we are alert to any potential hazards we may encounter.
“If we all did this, it would go a long way to prevent the loss of more lives on our roads.”
This was the first case of its kind to be investigated by Essex Police in which an individual was convicted with causing death by careless driving after they allowed their vehicle to run out of fuel while over the specified drug limit.