Miliband asked to think of tragic Amy

FOREIGN Secretary David Milliband is to be asked to speak to South African authorities to prevent a repeat of an accident which killed a Felixstowe teenager.

FOREIGN Secretary David Milliband is to be asked to speak to South African authorities to prevent a repeat of an accident which killed a Felixstowe teenager.

Amy Taylor, 19, was one of three people in the same car who died in a horrific crash after they tried to avoid a large block of steel in the road, an inquest heard on Tuesday.

The three women's bodies were robbed and their phones, jewellery and other personal belongings stolen - but it is not known whether the metal was put in the road on purpose, or that it fell from a lorry.

Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean recorded a verdict of accidental death on Amy, who he described an as exceptionally gifted young woman who had been looking forward to a bright future.

Mr Dean said because of the incomplete investigation by the authorities in South Africa there were still many unanswered questions, especially about how the metal came to be in the road and its disappearance afterwards.

He said he would write to the Foreign Office and send a transcript of the inquest to ask if officials could contact the South African authorities to look further into what happened and avoid a repeat of a similar fatal accident.

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He said: “We owe it to Amy and her two friends who died to raise these questions to see if a similar tragedies can be avoided in future and I will be contacting the foreign secretary to see if anything can be done.”

The inquest, at Suffolk County Council's offices Endeavour House, heard the car Amy and her friends Antoinette and Chantelle Bezuidenhaut were travelling in, near Johannesburg, swerved to avoid the metal and hit a police vehicle. A lorry and another car were also involved in the pile-up.

Amy - who was on a gap year before starting at Bath University to learn to teach dance and choreography to children - died from multiple injuries.

Because her parents, Jonathan and Cheryle Taylor, of Exeter Road, Felixstowe, were frustrated at the lack of investigation taking place in South Africa, Suffolk police carried out an investigation.

Det Insp Simon Manthorpe said an inquest had been held in a court in South Africa and the coroner there had criticised the initial investigation into the crash, saying officers had not done the correct groundwork and should face disciplinary action, and had asked for further inquiries to be made.

One inspector, who was allegedly drunk when he attended the scene, was charged with performing his duties in an improper manner and dismissed, though this was suspended for eight months, and fined 500 rand. The other, also an inspector, was charged with neglecting his duties and given a final written warning.

“WHEN Amy died, part of my life died with her.”

Those were the words of Amy Taylor's mum Cheryle Taylor as she described the enormous loss of her daughter and the devastating impact her death has had on the family.

Mrs Taylor and her husband Jonathan had been hoping the coroner would put pressure on the South African authorities to look again at the circumstances of the crash.

However, they accept there may be little further they learn unless they appoint a private lawyer in the republic.

Mrs Taylor said: “Amy was my best friend and we had a very close relationship.

“I miss her terribly. My sense of loss remains immense and I continue to ache for her and I believe I always will.”

Amy had three brothers - Simon, 27, James 18, Joshua, 14, and a sister Kylie, 19.

Mrs Taylor said Amy had had meningitis at the age of one and been told she would not be able to start mainstream school. To improve her co-ordination at two she had started dancing - which became her great passion in life - and she had gone to school as normal and excelled in all she did.

Amy had been living and working in London for a year before university. She had travelled to Australia to see her boyfriend Dan Jones and then to South Africa to help her friend Antoinette Bezuidenhaut take her belongings home and meet her family.

Mrs Taylor recalled how she felt when Antoinette's father phoned to tell them about the crash.

She said: “Everything was a blur; I could not take it in so I asked him if he was telling me Amy was dead. He stated he was. I threw the phone at my husband in shock and disgust as I thought for a brief moment that it was a sick joke.”

Have you faced a battle to find out the truth about a loved one's death? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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