A 19-YEAR-OLD university student died after swerving her car to avoid hitting a pheasant, an inquest heard.
Casey Leigh Sowerby lost control of her Citroen C3 and skidded across the carriageway, colliding with a Citroen Berlingo van.
Several witnesses had reported seeing a pheasant cross the road immediately before the collision on October 9 last year.
A post mortem report revealed Miss Sowerby had suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries.
The fatal crash came just months after Miss Sowerby had passed her driving test in January 2018, an inquest heard.
She was driving from her Workington home to university in Carlisle where she was studying to become a mental health nurse at the time of the crash.
PC Craig Irving, of Cumbria Police’s collision investigation unit, said the car had started to rotate after Miss Sowerby had steered harshly, initially to the right and then to the left.
He said she would have found it difficult to keep control of the vehicle.
PC Irving said Miss Sowerby was a ‘relatively new, inexperienced driver’ and this may have been a factor.
He added it would have been ‘instinctive’ to swerve and it was likely Miss Sowerby had overreacted.
PC Irving said he was also satisfied that neither driver would have had significant time to avoid the crash on the A66 at Marron Bridge, in Workington.
A black box fitted on Miss Sowerby’s car recorded her speed at 59mph at the time of the collision, on the road which has a 60mph speed limit.
Miss Sowerby had attended St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School and then St Joseph’s Catholic High in Workington.
She was ‘academically gifted’ and completed A-levels in psychology, history and geography at Cockermouth School before starting her degree in mental health nursing.
Miss Sowerby began driving as soon as she turned 17 and was ‘confident and careful’ behind the wheel.
A tribute was read out at Cockermouth coroners court, on behalf of Miss Sowerby’s mother, Lorraine.
She said her daughter was a ‘very loving young lady’ who was ‘always bright and cheerful with a great sense of humour’.
Miss Sowerby worked part-time in McDonald’s and ‘liked nice things’. She ‘loved her makeup and clothes’.
Coroner Dr Nicholas Shaw said: ‘I would imagine she died instantly. She would not have known.’
He added: ‘It’s just a tragic accident and loss of such a young, promising life, all for a pheasant.
‘But it’s natural instinct when you come across something like that.
‘She just lost control of the car. She was doing nothing wrong at all.
‘I’m just dreadfully sorry for your loss. Nobody can be held at fault. It was a pure accident.
‘You have my deepest sympathy.’