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Woman fled taxi on A2 before being hit by lorry near Dartford Heath

A woman fled from a taxi she mistakenly believed was taking her the wrong way, before being hit by a lorry on an unlit stretch of the A2 at Dartford Heath.

An inquest at County Hall heard how Chantel Scannell, 42, had been on her way home to Hornchurch in Essex in the early hours of November 12, after a party in Bexleyheath, when she got out of a taxi and ran across the dual carriageway onto the opposite carriageway.

Chantel Scannell, 42, from Hornchurch, Essex, died after being hit by a lorry on the A2 near Dartford Heath. Picture: GoFundMe
Chantel Scannell, 42, from Hornchurch, Essex, died after being hit by a lorry on the A2 near Dartford Heath. Picture: GoFundMe

A short time later she was hit by a lorry travelling on the London-bound carriageway, at around 2.45am, and died at the scene.

Coroner Alan Blunsdon read evidence that Chantel, a teaching assistant, had a recent history of anxiety and panic attacks, but had seemed in good spirits earlier at the party.

He then read a statement from taxi driver Taher Uzzaman who said he had been driving towards the Dartford Crossing on the A2, while Chantel was on the phone in the back of the taxi.

"I heard her say 'I'm on the A13,'" he recalled. "I corrected her and said we were in the A2 going towards the Dartford Crossing.

"She said 'I don't trust you' and she opened the door. At this point I was driving at about 70mph. I said something like 'what the hell are you doing?' and attempted to brake."

Mr Uzzaman then pulled onto the hard shoulder and said Chantel had got out of the taxi as soon as he stopped. She had then tried to run along the carriageway and he tried to stop her, at first using his forearm because he didn't want to grab her, but when that didn't work he had attempted to restrain her.

Chantel had then fought back, scratching and biting him before running across the road, he explained.

Officers attend the scene of the collision in the early hours of November 12, 2022. Image: UKNIP
Officers attend the scene of the collision in the early hours of November 12, 2022. Image: UKNIP

The inquest heard lorry driver Simon Goldup had been driving London-bound, around 300 metres up the road from where the taxi had stopped, when he "caught something in the nearside headlights" which "appeared to be getting out of the road or jumping into the road."

He said he had no time to react and the collision was unavoidable - a point confirmed by police investigators - but initially thought he had struck an animal.

He had then brought the lorry to stop and got out to check what he'd hit, and if there was a hazard in the road, before discovering Chantel and calling the police.

Forensic collision investigator PC Helen Waghorn said the evidence showed the collision was unavoidable, and investigating officer DC Bille-Lorraine Mills said there had been no evidence to contradict the account given by Mr Uzzaman.

GPS evidence had shown the taxi had made no stops since it had left the site of the party, and the taxi was seen to be on the correct route to Essex.

Mr Uzzaman had also been on the phone to a colleague before Chantel had attempted to leave, and the colleague had also heard Chantel questioning the route.

He had also described how he heard Mr Uzzaman say "don't go, don't go, we are on the motorway" and then heard him screaming.

In summing up, Mr Blunsdon said he had to consider whether Chantel intended to end her own life, given the recent history of mental health issues, but there had been not enough evidence to show that was the case.

County Hall, Maidstone
County Hall, Maidstone

"I'm not satisfied that Chantel intended to take her own life," he added. "I think her behaviour was as a result of the panic attacks she had been experiencing."

Toxicology reports had showed she had a high level of alcohol in her system - around 290 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood - and Mr Blunsdon said she was likely to have been disorientated as a result.

He said the confusion about the road they were on had likely caused Chantel to "attempt to leave the taxi as she thought the taxi driver was misleading her." He said the taxi driver "was trying to prevent her from coming to harm," but that Chantel "probably believed it was for some other reason that he was trying to restrain her."

Mr Blunsdon concluded that Chantel died as the result of a road traffic collision.

Following her death, a fundraiser to raise money for her children generated more than £11,000 in donations.

Friend and organiser Debbie Leslie said: "Chantel was a bright, selfless, genuine, kind-hearted, down to earth, caring person.

"She enjoyed life and was always determined to live it to the full with a big smile on her face.

"Chantel leaves behind her two beautiful children Mckenzie and Lacie. Chantel loved them both, they were her world and she always spoke of them with pride and joy."

You can donate to the fundraiser here.

Langton Infant School, where Chantel worked, had also released a statement describing her as a "very special person and will be forever in our hearts."

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