Norfolk

Bethany Alexander: Teenager 'distracted by phone' before fatal crash

Bethany Alexander Image copyright Alexander family
Image caption Bethany Alexander died in a crash with a 32-tonne lorry near Norwich

A teenage driver killed in a crash may have been "distracted" by her phone moments before she veered into oncoming traffic, an inquest heard.

Bethany Alexander, 18, died when her car was in collision with a 32-tonne lorry near Norwich on 15 February.

She was seen "leaning or looking down" at the passenger footwell as she "drifted" into the wrong lane.

Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake concluded she died as a result of a road traffic collision.

Ms Alexander's father disputed using the phone caused the crash, and said dash-cam footage showed his daughter last used it on a side road 30 seconds before - evidence that was accepted by the coroner.

"While everyone talks about the danger of using a mobile phone, it's clear that it's not the only danger," he said after the inquest.

"Not paying attention to the road, whatever you are doing, obviously has the gravest of outcomes."

He said his daughter, of Poethlyn Drive, Queen's Hills, was "the life and soul of the party", and an aspiring PE teacher.

Image caption The crash happened just after midday and the road was closed for more than seven hours

In a statement read to the court, lorry driver Kevin Rowe described how Ms Alexander's white VW Polo veered into his path.

"The vehicle was fully on my side of the road and almost clipping the kerb," he said.

Both drivers tried to steer away from each other, but crashed in "a shower of debris and smoke", he added.

Mr Rowe's passenger, his son Arran, said he saw Ms Alexander "leaning or looking down towards the console or passenger footwell" before "sitting up and grabbing the steering wheel with both hands".

PC Forbes Scott said it was "clear that Ms Alexander was not paying attention to the road ahead".

"The most likely cause was Ms Alexander becoming distracted by interacting with her mobile phone," he added.

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