A TEEN champion showjumper was killed when the car she was driving skidded out of control and overturned as she drove herself home from visiting her boyfriend, an inquest heard today.
Ella Popley, an 18-year-old student and equestrian, was driving home in her Fiat 500, which she had named ‘Freddy’, along a winding, country road when she lost control of the car and hurtled into the verge.
The coroner heard how she was approaching a bend when she must have braked hard, causing the car to understeer.
As this happened, her wing mirror smashed into the wing mirror of an oncoming Audi and her rear back wheel hit the Audi.
The Fiat then span into the verge and overturned, causing Ella a serious head injury which led to her death.
The inquest was told that the driver of the Audi, Terry Collins, got out and went to see if she was okay.
On realising how bad the accident was he phoned the emergency services and, with the help of some nearby walkers, he managed to get Ella out of the car and put her in recovery position.
A police officer arrived and carried out CPR on Ella, but she could not be saved and was pronounced dead at the scene.
As she had a telematic device installed in the car which recorded data, when the crash happened Ella’s mother, Lea Popley, was contacting by Hastings Direct to inform her that there had been an incident.
The coroner, sitting in Woking, Surrey, heard that Mrs Popley rang Chris Matthews, Ella’s boyfriend, to tell him and he immediately went out to see if he could find her.
He had noticed ambulances driving down a nearby road and so went in that direction and eventually came to the scene of the crash where Ella lay dead.
Mr Matthews’ statement was read out as evidence at the hearing and he explained how Ella had stayed with him the night before the tragedy and she had decided to go home instead of to college, the morning after.
Mr Matthews, who lives on a farm near Dorking, Surrey, said: “Ella enjoyed visiting the farm and seeing what I did on the farm.
“She came over to our house on December 5 2016 and she stayed the night. We had a Chinese meal and we watched a movie.
“Ella woke up at 6.30am to get ready for college but decided not to go. We went back to sleep and then had leftover Chinese for breakfast.”
He explained that she was very happy that morning and they had not had any arguments. She left to go home at around 10am.
At the beginning of the inquest Ella’s mother started to give evidence but found it too difficult and broke down in tears.
The coroners officer read out her statement to the inquest, which explained that Ella had a younger brother, Jack, who was four years younger.
She said: “When Ella was 12, her father left us. Over the past six years we carried each other along. “Ella had the amazing ability to bounce back, she was always smiling and made friends with everyone.
“She started riding when she was two and at the age of 12 she was on the children’s GB team. Her riding career took us all over the world.”
She said the last time she saw Ella was in the morning of December 5, when she told her she was going to stay at a friend’s house because she did not think her mum would let her stay round Chris’ house on a weekday.
“I knew she would be going to Chris’ house and was just happy that she was happy. She went off in Freddy as she had affectionately called her car.”
The coroner said that there was no evidence that either drivers were on their mobile phones or had alcohol or drugs in their blood. Both cars were found to have no defects or faults.
Assistant Surrey Coroner Jessica Russell-Mitra gave a conclusion that Ella died from a head injury as a result of a road traffic accident on Leith Hill Road, Dorking, Surrey.
She said: “I note that she has been described in various ways but was a bright and brilliant young woman, a showjumper, a high achiever with a bright future that she was sadly unable to fulfill.”
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