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Discarded cigarette led to tragic crash

PUBLISHED: 14:47 10 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:19 03 March 2010

A GRIEVING husband fought back the tears as he told how a discarded cigarette led to a car accident that resulted in the death of his wife.

Terence Whenman said he had taken looked down momentarily to brush a burning cigarette from his lap, only for his car to leave the road and collide with a tree.

A GRIEVING husband fought back the tears as he told how a discarded cigarette led to a car accident that resulted in the death of his wife.

Terence Whenman said he had taken looked down momentarily to brush a burning cigarette from his lap, only for his car to leave the road and collide with a tree.

His wife Marcia, 54, was taken to Ipswich Hospital following the accident, but died later from her injuries.

Mr Whenman, 56, of Valley Road, Leiston, told an inquest in Southwold yesterday of the moments leading to the fatal accident.

The couple had enjoyed a meal with relatives in Saxmundham on November 13 and were travelling back home to Leiston on the B1119 at 9.30pm when the accident happened.

Mr Whenman, who works as a delivery driver for the Somerfield supermarket in Saxmundham, said: "My wife offered me a cigarette as I was driving home, but I initially refused."

But later Mrs Whenman lit two cigarettes and passed one to her husband.

"When I had finished smoking the cigarette, I wound my car window down a couple of inches and tried to throw the butt on to the road," recalled Mr Whenman.

"But the cigarette did not go out of the car, but fell on my seat or on my lap."

It was when Mr Whenman tried to brush the smouldering cigarette away from the seat area that the accident happened.

"I must have taken my eyes off the road for just a moment. I remember Marcia shouting and there was a loud bang and a huge impact as the car hit the tree," he said.

Mr Whenman told Lowestoft coroner George Leguen de Lacroix he could not remember anything of the accident after the impact.

Mrs Whenman was taken to Ipswich Hospital following the accident, but died from her injuries. Her husband needed hospital treatment for the injuries he sustained in the crash.

Mr Leguen de Lacroix recorded a verdict of accidental death and passed on his sympathy to Mr Whenman and his family.

The couple's daughter, Linda Candlish, said her father had been left devastated by the tragedy.

"He's devastated to be without her. They were always together and I think they loved it up here so much," she added.

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