Pensioner with cataracts dies in crash after wife asks him to park car

An old pensioner with cataracts died after crashing into a lamp post while parking his wife's car – because she was "terrible" at it, an inquest heard.

Despite having Alzheimer's and limited vision in both eyes, 86-year-old Albert Williams volunteered to park his wife's Peugeot for her outside their home on Clifton Road in Winchester in August 2019.

After letting him take the wheel, Joanne Smith-Williams said her husband "manoeuvred beautifully" – but then accelerated straight into two parked cars and the lamp post.

A witness who saw Mrs Smith-Williams directing her husband told the hearing the pensioner, who was not wearing his glasses, had "no idea" what he was doing.

The inquest at Winchester Coroner's Court, Hants, heard that Mr Williams, who lived in the city, no longer had a driving licence at the time of the crash.

He attempted to manoeuvre the automatic Peugeot 107 into a space but accelerated forwards, hit the other vehicles and then slammed into the lamp post.

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Mrs Smith-Williams told the coroner: "I am terrible at parking and he could always do it for me. His sight was perfectly good enough for it.

"On the day he manoeuvred beautifully. But then he went very fast up the road."

Mr Williams was pronounced dead at the scene.

Winchester resident Richard Scott, who witnessed the crash, disagreed with Mrs Smith-Williams' assessment of her husband's parking display.

He said: "I saw a red car manoeuvring with a lady stood beside instructing the driver what to do.

"I watched the driver failing for three to five minutes and it seemed he had no cognizance with what he was being asked to do.

"He seemed so far removed from what you'd consider to be a competent car driver so I thought I needed to say something.

"Considering my words carefully, I went over to the lady and said 'I don't think that man should be driving'.

"To my surprise, she said 'no, he shouldn't'. The driver then accelerated with the car door open."

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Mrs Smith-Williams took issue with Mr Scott's evidence, claiming parts were "complete nonsense".

In a tribute to her husband, she said: "He was wonderful, fit, strong and a lovely man. His short term memory had gone but he always wanted to do things for me."

People aged over 70 have to apply to the DVLA for licence renewal every three years – but Mr Williams decided not to in 2018 due to illness.

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A post mortem report by consultant pathologist Dr Balvinder Shoker says Mr Williams suffered fractures to the cervical spine.

Area coroner for Hampshire Jason Pegg concluded it was death by road traffic collision.

He added: "Poor eyesight and other illnesses contributed to this death."

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