‘Loving’ mum died in car crash as seatbelt ripped off

A “beautiful and loving” mum from died after she lost control of her car and crashed into a tree, an inquest has heard. Eye-witness Joe Price was driving behind Sarah Lumb in North Moor Lane in Halsall on the morning of October 17, 2022 when she suddenly veered off the road and crashed into a tree and despite the efforts of passers-by, the 42-year-old, from Southport[1], was pronounced dead at the scene. An inquest held yesterday (Friday February 9) at Preston Coroner’s Court heard how Sarah knew the route well, and had been driving along North Moor Lane “for more than 10 years”.

Mr Price described how Sarah had overtaken him, while driving within the national speed limit, on a straight section of the road. He said that when she entered a right-hand bend Sarah appeared to “over-correct” which led to her car swerving and crashing into a tree. He said: “I saw the silver car as I came round the bend.

I saw the car kind of turn back the other way and then turn back like an over-correction. It instantly stopped when it hit the tree.” The inquest heard that weather[4] conditions on the day of the crash were fine and, at the time, officers from Lancashire Police’s collision investigation unit could find no explanation as to why Sarah had suddenly lost control.

Sarah’s daughter Jess said that “it seems like a lot of ‘don’t knows’… she drove that road for over 10 years. It doesn’t seem logical.” Sarah’s seatbelt, which she was wearing at the time of the crash, had been ripped from its mounting to the car’s chassis.

The air bags had also not been deployed. Assistant Coroner Richard Taylor explained that as a result of concerns raised by Sarah’s family regarding the safety of her car, he obtained evidence from Ford engineers, based in Germany, as well as a forensic pathologist and the Department for Transport. PC Matt Burn, a traffic police officer of more than 10 years, said that Sarah’s seatbelt had been ripped from its mounting due to the roof of her car being struck by a “huge tree branch”.

PC Burn also described how air bags are only designed to deploy in very specific circumstances when within 30 degrees of being a direct head-on collision. “It wouldn’t deploy because it wouldn’t have served any purpose,” PC Burn said. “Cars are only able to withstand a certain amount of force; that’s why rally cars are fitted with extra roll bars. “You could make a car out of solid metal and it would stay completely intact but the force that should have been taken by the bodywork then goes into the driver’s body.”

Dr Nigel Cooper, a lecturer in forensic pathology, said that Sarah suffered a cranio-cervical injury caused by her body being restrained by the seatbelt while her head continued moving forwards. This resulted in an “unsurviveable” trauma which would have happened even if the seatbelt had remained intact. Dr Cooper said in a statement: “Such injuries are more severe in those wearing a seatbelt than those not wearing one.”

Floral tributes left at the scene of Sarah Lumb's deathFloral tributes left at the scene of Sarah Lumb’s death

The inquest heard extracts of a statement by Jim Hand from the Department for Transport who described how the government is working alongside the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Europe which constantly reviews frequently occurring scenarios in collisions.

The circumstances surrounding Sarah’s death are being considered by the commission. Returning a conclusion of a road traffic collision, the coroner said: “Somehow she lost control of the vehicle and I am sorry but we will never be able to answer how that occurred.” After Sarah’s death her daughter Jess said: “She was an amazing, compassionate and loving mother, who will be dearly missed.

Sarah played many roles as well as being a mother. “She was a person who put everything and everyone before herself. She was the glue that held everyone together, and for that I am thankful to call her my mother.”

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  1. ^ Southport (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)
  2. ^ Warning to anyone who owns a Ford car in one part of Merseyside (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)
  3. ^ Mum, 100, living in ‘horrendous’ home with damp and leaky roof (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)
  4. ^ weather (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)
  5. ^ Don’t miss the biggest and breaking stories by signing up to the Echo Daily newsletter here (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)