‘Driver distraction’ could have been factor in fatal crash that killed Pearly Queen Joyce Carr from March and her sister-in-law and fellow Pearly Queen Peggy Oliver

Joyce Carr, the Pearly Queen of Southwark

Joyce Carr, the Pearly Queen of Southwark - Credit: Archant

Driver “distraction or inattention” could be to blame for an accident in which two Pearly Queens died an inquest has heard.

Peggy Oliver, the Pearly Queen of Redbridge.

Peggy Oliver, the Pearly Queen of Redbridge. - Credit: Archant

March woman Joyce Carr, 77, MBE, Pearly Queen of Southwark, was a front seat passenger, being driven by her 84-year-old sister in law Peggy Oliver, Pearly Queen of Redbridge, when the accident happened near Huntingdon on September 19 last year.

Both died of multiple injuries at the scene of the crash at King’s Ripton.

Mrs Carr’s daughter Denise Chapel was a passenger in the rear of the car and was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital with serious injuries.

The women were on a visit to Mrs Carr’s husband, George, at a care home in Whittlesey.

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The trio ate lunch at the George Hotel, in Whittlesey, before leaving to drive home, but neither the driver nor her sister-in-law consumed any alcohol.

Mrs Oliver, 84, of Chigwell in Essex, was driving with Mrs Carr, 76, at her side while Ms Chapel sat in the rear seat looking after the sat nav.

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Travelling along School Road, they hit a Nissan Qashqai, driven by Rachel Butler, as she travelled from Mill Road. Both cars left the road and ended up in a field.

PC Ian Gray, a crash investigator with Cambridgeshire police, told the inquest on February 11 that Miss Butler had right of way at the crossroads.

Mr Gray added Mrs Oliver would have seen the warning signs for the crossroads as she approached the junction.

These included a give-way sign inside a warning triangle as well as the road changing to hazard lines just before.

PC Gray concluded that either Mrs Oliver “failed to recognise the junction or thought she had right of way,” stating the deaths were caused by “distraction or inattention”.

Miss Butler said in her statement that the Nissan Micra “had not attempted to slow down or stop”.

PC Gray, however, suggested hedges lining Mill Road may have obscured the highway and if they had not been there, “someone might have proceeded on a visual clue that there was a problem.”

Senior Coroner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, David Heming concluded the women had died as a result of a road traffic collision.

Mrs Carr and her husband lived at Waterlees Gardens in March for a number of years, but the house was in the process of being sold so she could move near her daughter.

Paying tribute to the women, a spokesman for the Pearly Kings and Queens Association said: “These two Pearly Queens, who were sister-in-laws, have spent their lives with their families raising funds and promoting various charities in London and around the country.

“This is a very sad time for our association members who all knew and worked with them, so we share their loss and send our condolences to the two families.”

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