Compensation claim launched after death

AN Ipswich woman is claiming �400,000 compensation from a major holiday company after her partner was killed in an horrific crash in South Africa.

AN Ipswich woman is claiming �400,000 compensation from a major holiday company after her partner was killed in an horrific crash in South Africa.

Michael Cole, 48, died after the minibus he was travelling in left the road and overturned several times.

No inquest has yet been held into the accident 18 months ago with the coroner still waiting for information from the investigation.

In a writ issued in the High Court in London, Mr Cole's partner Gina Warren brands the minibus driver as negligent, and says he failed to concentrate on what he was doing, drove too fast, failed to look where he was going or keep control of his machine.

He also negligently failed to keep a safe course on the road, drove erratically, drove in a way which showed he was late and in a hurry to make up time, the writ claims.

Ms Warren, of Acacia Close, Purdis Farm, says she and Mr Cole had lived together as man and wife for ten years before the fatal accident on Boxing Day 2007.

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She is now his executor, and was his sole dependent.

Ms Warren said the writ against Virgin Holidays had only just been lodged with the High Court following failure to agree a settlement of her compensation claim out of court.

“At the moment the claim is just going through the court process - I have spoken to my solicitor today to find out the progress and nothing is likely to happen for two months,” she said.

“It had looked as if they might settle at eleventh hour, but that didn't happen so the writ was issued. We still haven't had the inquest as yet either. These matters all seem to take time.”

Mr Cole, who ran his own financial advice business, was with a friend on a two-week Christmas and New Year trip when the crash happened, en route from their hotel in Sun City to Johannesburg airport, where they were taking a flight to Kruger National Park.

He was an extensive traveller, having visited the USA, Caribbean, Far East, Canada, Dubai and Egypt. Friends described him as “very fun-loving and had a great sense of humour”.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Holidays said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic events surrounding Mr Cole's death and supported the family at the time and continue to do so as appropriate.”