“Defective” state of Queen Adelaide Way could have contributed to death of Soham mother in car crash

Queen Adelaide way. Picture: Steve Williams.

Queen Adelaide way. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

A defective road surface may have contributed to the death of a mother of two in a road traffic collision, an inquest has found.

Maxine Freeman, 37, of Guntons Close in Soham, was killed in a collision with a lorry on Queen Adelaide Way near Ely on May 3.

At 10.45am, the blue Citroen Xsara Picasso she was driving left her side of the road and collided with an oncoming articulated heavy goods lorry. Mrs Freeman died at the scene.

Police checks in the aftermath of the collision raised concerns about the “uneven” state of the road, which prompted Cambridgeshire County Council to introduce a temporary road 40mph speed restriction and uneven road surface warning signs.

The road, which before the collision was inspected annually, has been resurfaced in the past month.

Coroner William Morris, recording a conclusion of death by road traffic collision, said: “Absolutely no blame can be apportioned to the lorry driver and there is no evidence of mechanical defects.

“The road surface at the time was cause for concern but there is no evidence that the road surface caused the collision.

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“It would be helpful if I knew to what extent it contributed to the collision but I can’t even do that.

“I wish to express my sincere sympathies to the family.”

Queen Adelaide Way links Ely with Queen Adelaide and is also used by hundreds of motorists every day as a means of getting to Littleport, Prickwillow and into Norfolk.

The lorry driver, Tomas Kowalski, said he spotted Mrs Freeman’s Citroen 300 yards away and was not expecting any problems because it was travelling at a steady speed on the correct side of the road.

But, when the car was just 10 metres away from him, it turned into his lane. He slammed on the brakes, but it was too late to prevent the collision.

He said: “Suddenly the car seemed to hit a dip into the road and without warning turned into me.”

A witness, who was driving behind the lorry when the collision occurred, said he thought he saw Mrs Freeman’s car “bounce” and there was nothing the lorry driver could do to prevent the collision.

Cambs Police Sergeant Gordon Murray, of the Road Policing Unit, who conducted tests on the road after the collision, contacted Cambridgeshire County Council about the state of the road.

He said: “It was very bumpy and uneven. The steering of the vehicle could be pulled to one side.

“My belief is that the road surface could have been a factor in the collision, but one of many.”

John O’Donnell, a road technician for Cambridgeshire County Council, said there had only been one incident on the stretch of road in the immediate vicinity of the collision and this was not caused by the road surface.

An inspection carried out after the collision, however, highlighted the fact the road surface had deteriorated more rapidly than expected so resurfacing work was brought forward, he said.

Neither driver had alcohol in their system, both were familiar with the road and both vehicles had no defects which could have contributed to the collision, the inquest found.

Mrs Freeman leaves behind her husband Ian and two young children Daisy, 4, and Joshua, 2.

She was an active member of her community and served as chairman of the Ely National Childbirth Trust.