Cornwall

Crash death mum Laura Hopes 'distracted by children'

Laura and Alfie Hopes Image copyright Family photo/Just Giving
Image caption Laura Hopes and her six-year-old son Alfie were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash

A mother may have been distracted by her children in the moments before a crash in which she and her six-year-old son were killed, an inquest has heard.

Laura Hopes, 32, from Saltash, and her son Alfie died in the pile-up on the A38 in Cornwall on 9 July 2017.

A third victim, Tony Woodman, who had got out of his car just before the smash, was also killed.

The inquest in Truro heard inattention or distraction was the most likely cause of the collision.

Mrs Hopes had been travelling with Alfie and her other son Tommy, four, at the time of the crash.

Witnesses said they saw her Audi A3 drift across the central line of the road between Tideford and Landrake before it ploughed into the back of the Land Rover Freelander.

The impact caused the driver to lose control, and the 4x4 rolled towards Mr Woodman, who was thrown over a hedge into a field.

The inquest heard Mr Woodman, from Plymouth, had stopped his car to inspect a badger carcass at the roadside which he had thought was a dog.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Tony Woodman was described as an "awesome" father and grandfather

Mrs Hopes' Audi hit two other cars in the oncoming lane before coming to rest.

Mr Woodman died from chest injuries while a post-mortem found Mrs Hopes and Alfie died from multiple injuries. All three died at the scene.

Collision investigator Sgt Simon Bishop told the inquest the most likely reason for Mrs Hopes' driving was distraction or inattention caused by "the children in the back or another source".

Coroner Guy Davies concluded the accident occurred mainly as a result of Mrs Hopes' driving, after she "inexplicably" drove into the back of the Land Rover.

Image caption Mr Woodman died from chest injuries while a post-mortem found Mrs Hopes and Alfie died from multiple injuries

A tribute released shortly after the crash said Mrs Hopes was a "loving, kind and devoted mum".

Her husband Lee and fellow family members said she and Alfie were "loved deeply", and relatives had been left "devastated" by their deaths.

Alfie was described as "happy and popular boy" and a keen footballer.

"He loved Liverpool Football Club and was rarely seen without a football kit on and a ball at his feet," the tribute said.

Mr Woodman's family also paid tribute to him, describing him as a loving and caring son, an amazing brother and "awesome" dad and granddad, who would be "deeply missed" by everyone who knew him.

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