Mum-of-two died in African road smash

A mother-of-two and member of the KP golf club near Pocklington died from multiple injuries as a result of a car accident while on holiday in South Africa, an inquest heard.

Denise Ridsdale, 67, who used to live in Market Weighton, was a passenger in a hire car being driven by her husband Phillip when the couple were in a head-on collision with another car on 9 January this year.

​In a statement read to the inquest at Hull Coroner’s Court, Mr Ridsdale said he believed the oncoming car had swerved to miss a pothole before it ended up sideways in front of his car moments before the collision.

He said he estimated that both vehicles had been travelling at almost 100kmh prior to impact.

All four occupants of the other car - two woman and two children - were killed in the collision.

Mr Ridsdale said: “Shortly after the impact I looked at Denise and she was looking at me and I asked if she was all right then we both reached for our door handles.”

He said: “I had difficulty breathing as I had a broken sternum and broken ribs, but someone helped me out of the car.

“I asked to be taken to my wife who was laid on the road surface. She said don’t lay on me as I think I’ve broken my pelvis, so I laid beside her.”

The inquest heard that there was some confusion as to whether the couple had medical cover because a telephone number for the insurance company was incorrect. However medical staff agreed to provide treatment pending further checks, and the couple were taken in separate ambulances to hospital at Bethlehem.

Mr Ridsdale said he was asked to sign a consent form so doctors could operate on his wife, but the following day he was told by a nurse that “she didn’t have long left.”

He said: “I asked them to take me to her which they did and we laid side-by-side.

“I couldn’t move because of my injuries and my collapsed lung, however I was able to put my hands on her and touch her face.

“I was talking to her all the time but she appeared to be unconscious, then a doctor told me her heart had stopped. I’m sure she was aware of what I’d said as there were tears in her eyes and a nurse told me that she may have been able to hear.”

Consultant Histopathologist Dr Alistair MacDonald said a postmortem had already been carried out in South Africa and that his own postmortem, carried out at Hull Royal Infirmary, revealed that Mrs Ridsdale, of The Paddock, Middleton on the Wolds, had died from multiple internal injuries.

The inquest heard how, following their retirement, the couple regularly went on holiday to South Africa for up to eleven weeks at a time when they used to visit a nephew and hire a car touring the country playing golf.

Mrs Ridsdale, who worked as a book keeper, met her husband at a dance in Driffield in 1964, and the couple were married in 1968 at North Dalton.

They lived at Market Weighton for the first eight years of their marriage before moving to Middleton on the Wolds.

The couple’s two sons, Ian and Michael, flew out to South Africa to be with their father following the death.

Mr Ridsdale was only allowed to fly home by British Airways after his insurance company arranged for a British doctor to come out and fly back with him.

Recording a narrative verdict, Her Majesty’s Coroner Prof. Paul Marks said: “Denise Ridsdale was involved in a road traffic accident on 9 January while on holiday in South Africa as a result of which she sustained multiple injuries from which she died, despite having surgical treatment.”