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Popular teacher Sara Bluett was not wearing seatbelt at time of fatal accident

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: December 18, 2013

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A POPULAR teacher who died in a crash near Bude earlier this year was not wearing a seat belt as she drove her car to work, an inquest has heard.

Sara Bluett, 46, who was deputy head of the design and technology department at Park Community School in Barnstaple, died in a crash on the A39 two miles out of Kilkhampton on March 22.

Miss Bluett, who lived at Widemouth Bay, was driving a Volkswagen Polo towards Bideford when it was in collision with a Ford 4x4 vehicle towing a trailer at 7.15am.

The 4x4, which had gas bottles in the back and was towing a cattle pen trailer, ended up on its side as it crashed into a ditch, the inquest in Truro heard on Wednesday

Miss Bluett died at the scene from multiple injuries while the driver of the 4x4, Stuart Woollen, from Northam, was knocked unconscious and was flown to Plymouth's Derriford Hospital by air ambulance to be treated for serious leg injuries.

Deputy Cornwall Coroner Andrew Cox recorded a verdict that Miss Bluett died as the result of a road traffic collision.

He said Mr Woollen was at the head of four vehicles driving west when the VW Polo came across the road towards him.

Her car hit the 4x4 and then the trailer, and Miss Bluett was thrown across the front seats of her car and out through the passenger door into the road.

"I am not able to come to a conclusion as to why she crossed the carriageway. She may have been momentarily distracted, I do not know," said Mr Cox.

"It appears that Sara was not wearing her seat belt, and if she had been she may have survived," said Mr Cox.

Miss Bluett lived at Lower Widemouth Farm with her partner Guy Watton, who attended the inquest, and her son Jack.

Mr Woollen, 42, a cattle dealer, said he was heading west when he saw a silver car losing control. "The driving was erratic and the car was starting to swerve across the road at me," he said.

"The other car was, for some reason, going into an anti-clockwise spin. It started to come across and the collision was on my side of the road.

"It all happened so fast. I tried to steer towards the hedge but I didn't have time to avoid the car."

The car hit both his 4x4 and the trailer, and he was knocked unconscious.

Police vehicle examiners found that the braking system on the trailer, which had recently been serviced, was faulty but did not contribute to the accident. The speedometers of both vehicles had stuck at around 60mph.

Electrician Jonathan Stephens said he was following the 4x4 when he saw a small car turn onto their side of the road.

"The 4x4 was in its correct lane when a silver vehicle crossed into its carriageway. It was all very quick," he said.

Registered nurse Susan Matthews said she had been in a line of four vehicles heading west when, between Clovelly Cross and Kilkhampton, she heard "an explosive bang" about 40 yards in front of her.

She ran to the Polo, found no-one inside, but then saw a body under the rear wheel of the pickup.

"I checked for a pulse but didn't find one," she said.

Miss Bluett, who was popular with friends, colleagues and pupils, completed a teaching degree at Middlesex University in 1990 and later obtained a master's degree in design and technology education from Sheffield Hallam University.

Before joining the design and technology department at The Park School she had worked in London for ten years, and had also spent a year teaching in Australia.

In 2005 Miss Bluett spent a half-term week exchanging experiences with teachers in Uganda with the charity Education Action.

She raised more than £6,000 for schools in Uganda through events in Bude, including a Bob Marley Night.

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