Wrong-way M40 caravan crash 'couldn't have been predicted'

The crash caused 70 minute delays northbound Image copyright @martb6969
Image caption The crash happened in October between junctions six and seven of the M40 in Oxfordshire

A "catastrophic" crash in which three people died when a car was driven the wrong way on a motorway could not have been predicted, a report has found.

John Norton, 80, towed his caravan onto the M40 on 15 October and collided head-on with Stuart Richards, 32.

Both men and Mr Norton's passenger, Olive Howard, 87, died in the crash.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) had examined the handling of a crash five days before in which Mr Norton struck another car.

Its report concluded Thames Valley Police acted appropriately when a driver reported the 80-year-old hitting his parked car in High Wycombe.

The man raised concerns with the police over Mr Norton's fitness to drive.

'Terribly tragic'

The IOPC said the report could have been closed because of a lack of independent evidence, but that it was assessed for further review on 12 October because of the concerns raised, and passed to the relevant team.

The IOPC's regional director Sarah Green called the fatal M40 crash a "terribly tragic incident".

She said police "handled the initial emergency 999 call and the subsequent collision report appropriately" and that "there was no way to predict, from the information the force had, the catastrophic sequence of events that would result in the tragic loss of three lives".

An inquest in April heard that Mr Norton was probably suffering from confusion brought on by cancer in his brain.

He travelled south on the northbound carriageway for about four miles before the accident.

Witness statements described cars flashing their lights, using their horns, and swerving to avoid his Subaru.

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