Pheasant may be cause of fatal crash

A 23-YEAR-OLD teacher who was killed when her car smashed into a crash barrier before flipping over and hurtling down the road on its roof was probably trying to avoid a pheasant, an inquest heard.

A 23-YEAR-OLD teacher who was killed when her car smashed into a crash barrier before flipping over and hurtling down the road on its roof was probably trying to avoid a pheasant, an inquest heard.

Gemma Fuschillo, whose parents Paul and Karen live in Holbrook, near Ipswich, died shortly after 5am on February 22 as she was driving on the London-bound track of the A12 at the Ingatestone by-pass.

The inquest into her death at Shire Hall, Chelmsford, yesterday heard there were no witnesses into the fatal accident, which happened when the road was quiet.

But Essex Police traffic investigation officer, Pc Steve Perrett, told the inquest he had pieced together the evidence after arriving at the scene about an hour after the tragedy.


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He said the former head girl of Wymondham College, Norfolk, had been driving her red Peugeot 106, which had no mechanical defects, when the road was damp and before dawn in a two-lane stretch that had no street lighting.

He was unable to pinpoint her exact speed as she negotiated two sweeping bends, but added there was nothing to suggest that she was going too fast.

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Tyre marks suggested she bounced off the central reservation across the carriageway before hitting a nearside wooden fence and rotating further down the road.

He said he did not know what caused the accident, but he told Essex assistant deputy coroner, Dr Jolanta McKenzie, that he had also found a pheasant near the wreck.

Addressing Miss Fuschillo's parents, Paul and Karen, he said: "I also found pheasant feathers in the tyre marks. It's only speculation, but I feel she swerved to avoid the bird and lost control.

"Her attempts to return to the carriageway failed and there was a substantial impact with the road fence."

The road was closed for several hours and Miss Fuschillo, from Uppingham, Leicestershire, was confirmed dead at Broomfield Hospital later that day.

A pathologist concluded she died of multiple injuries due to a road accident.

Recording her verdict of accidental death, Dr McKenzie said: "It was a tragic accident. We will never know whether the pheasant was responsible, but it seems possible."

Miss Fuschillo was one of four children and left behind two brothers, Ben and Sam and a sister, Sam.

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