A mum may have had an epileptic seizure at the wheel before crashing head on into a van – killing herself and her five-year-old son, an inquest heard.
Rebecca Smith was diagnosed with epilepsy aged 13 and witnesses described her as having a fit at the scene of the crash on August 16 last year.
A witness said he saw "her head was down to the left side and was twitching and she had foam in her mouth."
Tests also revealed she was twice the legal drug-drive limit for cannabis, Stoke on Trent Live reports.
Little Corey Rhodes was given first aid by witnesses at the scene but sadly he couldn’t be saved and died shortly after arriving at the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
Rebecca, from Fenton, died after undergoing emergency surgery in hospital a day later.
Her six-year-old son Kyle Rhodes, who was also in the car, survived after being airlifted to Sheffield.
The 24-year-old’s BMW had veered on to the other side of Uttoxeter Road, Draycott, before hitting the Mercedes Sprinter van as she made her way to Poundland in Uttoxeter.
According to a witness, the driver of the van was on the phone to the emergency services who repeated ‘I couldn’t stop’.
Another, Craig Barks, claimed he saw the van lift up in the air following the impact.
In a statement, he said: "I was travelling along Uttoxeter Road towards the A50 in a Citroen Picasso. I was driving behind a Mercedes Sprinter at 35mph.
"I heard an almighty bang and I saw the van in front of me lift up about four or five feet from the surface.
"I got out of the van and approached a silver car and saw a woman sat in the driver’s seat.
"She appeared to be fitting as her head was down to the left side and was twitching and she had foam in her mouth."
Witness Linda Woolliscroft was travelling in the same direction as Rebecca in her Land Rover when she heard a loud bang.
In a statement read out at the hearing, she said: "I saw a car approaching from behind, it was a silver car that I thought was going to overtake me.
"Then I heard an almighty bang and I wasn’t sure what had caused the bang. I looked across and noticed there had been a crash.
"I parked my car on a grass verge, put my hazards on and went over to try to help. I noticed it was the silver car that was behind me moments before.
"I noticed there were two young children in the back of the car and the driver of the van was on the phone to the emergency services who repeated ‘I couldn’t stop’.
"I went over to the BMW and one man was trying to assess those in the car. I noticed the young boys in the back and they started CPR on Corey."
The inquest heard it is not known whether Rebecca suffered a fit before the crash or as a result of the accident.
But her long-term partner James Rhodes revealed that while visiting his surviving son in hospital, Kyle told him Rebecca had suffered a fit.
He said: "As soon as I walked through the door, the first thing he said to me was ‘mum’s had a fit’ and that she had no hands on the steering wheel.
"He would have seen Becky having fits before and he knows what one is."
James added: "She started to suffer some more regular fits about eight months before she died in the early part of last year.
"When I was at work the kids would tell me she had a fit and they were around once every three months. On the one occasion she had three fits in one day.
"Her medication was increased and she still had fits. She took her medication but sometimes she’d miss it.
"Becky didn’t use any illegal drugs apart from having around three cannabis cigarettes a night when the kids had gone to bed.
"Corey was in reception and was a happy-go-lucky child. Kyle would always wear his seat belt, but Corey from time to time would put part of the belt behind his neck.
"Corey and Kyle could be a distraction in the car if they were fighting as five and six-year-old brothers do."
Collision investigator PC Roger Wetton said that there was no evidence that Rebecca had informed the DVLA about her epilpesy.
PC Wetton said: "The BMW drove along the central hatch marks into the lane of the Mercedes. The van driver didn’t see it as a problem until he had insufficient time to.
"A collision occurred between the front of both vehicles, both rotated in an anti-clockwise direction. Witnesses say the driver appeared to be having a fit.
"Her condition was not disclosed to the DVLA, which would have resulted in her licence being removed."
PC Wetton added both Kyle and Corey were not in child booster seats.
He said: "Neither child had a hard seat and Corey was not wearing his seatbelt properly which could have protected him from hitting the rear of the front seat."
Assistant Coroner for North Staffordshire David James recorded that both Rebecca and Corey died from multiple injuries as a result of a road traffic collision.
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