Vet's death remains a mystery

thisisoxfordshire: Rachael Jackson Rachael Jackson

MYSTERY still surrounds the death of a young vet whose van veered into the path of an oncoming lorry on the A420.

Rachael Jackson, who worked for the Woodstock branch of Medivet, died at the scene of the crash near Buckland.

The 25-year-old, from Kidlington, was at the wheel of a small Citroen van when it hit a 44-tonne HGV on the single-carriageway section of the road at about 8.50am on April 4 this year.

An inquest at Oxford’s Old County Hall yesterday could not determine the exact circumstances of the crash.

Lorry driver Kenneth Gibson said he first saw Miss Jackson’s van on his side of the road “about 100 to 150 metres” ahead of him.

Reading from his police statement, he said: “I saw a small blue van. It was driving straight towards me on my side of the carriageway.

“I realised something was wrong and I steered to the right but at the last second the driver seemed to wake up and the driver steered sharply to the left and into my vehicle.

“It was an almost head-on collision.”

He added: “I could not see any reason why the driver was on my side of the road. It’s almost like the small van was overtaking someone, but there was no-one there to be overtaken.”

Witness Esra Howe, who was driving behind the lorry, said: “It looked as if the van was trying to get into the layby (on the lorry’s side of the road) before the lorry got there.”

When asked whether this was a possibility, Mr Gibson said he “wouldn’t have thought so” because he was “practically at the end” of the layby.

Collision investigator Stephen Moffatt said speed was not a factor in the crash, though the lorry tachograph showed it was doing 49mph when the limit for such vehicles is 40mph.

He said there was no “physical evidence” to support the theory that Miss Jackson was aiming for the layby, and added: “If it wasn’t any attempt to get into the layby the likely causes are some drastic lack of attention, a distraction in the vehicle or some form of fatigue.”

Mr Moffatt also said Miss Jackson had recently refuelled the van and could have been “tidying up, putting a receipt back in a pocket”, but he admitted none of the theories was supported by any evidence.

Coroner Darren Salter said “some mystery and uncertainty surrounds why the vehicle crossed the carriageway”.

He recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Miss Jackson’s father, Paul, said he wished to thank “the police and paramedics, and Mr Gibson, for their thorough nature”. He added: “It has meant a lot.”

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