A PEVENSEY Bay pensioner whose husband died when she blacked out at the wheel has paid tribute to a man who was ‘loved by everyone’.
Seventy-eight-year-old Ann Oakham, who had been married to her husband Frederick for 55 years, drifted on to the wrong side of the A259 near Pevensey Bay in June last year resulting in a head-on collision which killed her husband.
An inquest in to 81-year-old Mr Oakham’s death was held at Eastbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday afternoon (January 13).
Joseph Powell told coroner Alan Craze he was driving a van and had just turned on to the A259 and was heading toward Eastbourne when he was involved in the fatal accident.
He said, “I got up to 10mph and noticed there was a car coming towards me slightly, as if it were drifting across the line, so I slowed down and I noticed it was coming further and further over so I stopped completely and sounded the horn.
“I was stationary when it hit and I was shunted back.”
Mr Powell said he could not see any evasive action from the driver of the Vauxhall Zafira people carrier as it came towards him.
“There appeared to be no braking or steering,” he said.
Ann Oakham said she was driving back to the home she shared with her husband in Timberlaine Road and was near the turning off the A259 when she suffered a blackout.
She said, “Just before the turning to our home, I can remember looking at the clock and seeing it was 11am and than I looked at the speedo and saw I was doing 40mph and then I must have just gone round the bend and then I lost consciousness.
“The next thing I knew the airbag was in my face.
“I was a very short time, I must have only been out for two or three seconds.”
Firefighters had to cut the elderly couple from the car and ambulance crews took Mr Oakham to Eastbourne DGH but he sadly died at the hospital from chest injuries.
Mrs Oakham, who has since given up driving, said she was in reasonably good health for her age and had never suffered from blackouts or been in a car accident before or after the tragic incident.
She said she had been to the doctor after her husband’s death but no reason for her blackout could be found.
Mr Craze said it was impossible to say whether Mrs Oakham had suffered a blackout at the wheel or become distracted.
But Mrs Oakham said, “I can’t think of anything which would have distracted me.”
Mr Craze recorded a verdict of road traffic accident and offered Mrs Oakham his ‘utmost sympathy’. Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Oakham said she had met her husband at just 15 when she was at school and he was doing his national service in the Army.
The couple went on to have two sons and two daughters who made them grandparents to eight and great grandparents to three.
Mrs Oakham paid tribute to a ‘popular man’ and added, “He was very well-liked and loved by everyone who met him.”