Wirral Coroner records accidental death in Spital Road crash

A RETIRED church minister was travelling at 76mph when he hit a car causing Wirral’s worst ever road crash.

An inquest heard Reverend Graham Mercer, 73, probably suffered a seizure behind the wheel.

He rebounded off a wall into the path of a Vauxhall Corsa carrying family and friends on a day trip

Mr Mercer, of Bebington, was killed along with Olivia Wood, six, of Gwersyllt, near Wrexham, her great-aunt Ann Hargreaves, 71, of Bromborough, who was driving, and gran Linda Wood, 59, of Eastham.

Their friend, Joan Roden-Jones, 64, a therapist also from Gwersyllt, died later in hospital.

The crash happened on Sunday, March 8 on Spital Road.

Yesterday a Wallasey Town Hall inquest heard they were struck by Reverend Mercer’s Blue Megane with such force it became airborne and span around, landing 15 metres from the point of impact. He had suffered a mini stroke in 2001 but despite feeling unwell since January was assessed as fit to drive.

Pathologist Dr David Agbamu said it was possible his death had masked another mini-stroke.

Witnesses described his speed coming from the direction of the Three Stags, in Bebington, as “massively fast”, “way too fast”, “extremely fast” and “at motorway speed”.

James Pickford was driving with his girlfriend Victoria Hazelwood when he managed to swerve out of the path of the Megane which had strayed on to their side of the road.

She saw the driver and said he “had his eyes wide open with a fixed stare, his jaw dropped and his arms out straight in front of him”.

The couple told how they helped divert traffic away from the crash scene.

David Daniel Bell, an off duty nurse in Arrowe Park Hospital’s Critical Care Unit, stopped and tried to help.

Spotting six-year-old Olivia inside he tried to reach her through the back window but was only able to hold her hand.

Wirral coroner Christopher Johnson thanked him for efforts to help on the day.

Merseyside Police crash investigator Constable James Martindale told the inquest he did not believe Mr Mercer could have reached such speeds without conscious gear changes.

Recording five verdicts of accidental death caused by multiple injuries, Christopher Johnson offered his sympathy to the families saying: “It is inconceivable to me that Mr Mercer would drive his car the way he did unless he had had some kind of medical event, although pathologically it has not been possible to show that. “I’m also satisfied that all of the events on that morning were the result of a dreadful, traumatic accident.”