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Teenager Nathalie Clare tells of fatal crash at Staplehurst that killed mum Irene Clare and taxi driver Brian Maitland

A deaf teenager told an inquest how a taxi driver fell ill at the wheel before a crash that killed him and her mother.

Nathalie Clare was the back seat passenger in Brian Maitland’s cab when it hit two vehicles travelling in the opposite direction on the A229 between Frittenden and Staplehurst.

Father-of-two Mr Maitland, from Loose, and Irene Clare, from Coxheath – who was in the front of the red Vauxhall Vectra – died at the scene.

Brian Maitland, killed in a crash with Irene Clare
Brian Maitland, killed in a crash with Irene Clare

Nathalie, who was 18 at the time, suffered serious injuries and was taken to King’s College Hospital in London, where she was visited by Graham Sheppard, principal at Hamilton Lodge, a school in Brighton for deaf pupils.

At the hearing, Mr Sheppard said: “Immediately, she wanted to talk about the accident, signing: ‘Brian the taxi driver ill’, and she indicated her mum reaching out. She knew Brian very well.”

Mr Sheppard demonstrated sign language for ill and was confident his pupil had used the same movement.

Two motorists involved in the fatal crash described how the taxi was out of control and veered towards their side of the carriageway before hitting both of them about 7.30pm on Tuesday, March 5 last year.

Taxi driver Brian Maitland was said to have lost control before the crash
Taxi driver Brian Maitland was said to have lost control before the crash

One witness told police officers the taxi driver’s eyes were open and he was not slumped at the wheel.

PC David Burley said he could not rule out Mr Maitland, of Bray Gardens, had fallen asleep and had no evidence of a medical episode.

PC Burley said it appeared someone in the taxi tried to turn the wheel but it was impossible to determine if it was Mr Maitland or Mrs Clare.

Mr Sheppard explained Mr Maitland, 63, and Mrs Clare, 47, had collected Nathalie from school just hours before the accident near Knoxbridge Cafe.

The scene of the accident
The scene of the accident

Coroner Roger Hatch recorded Mr Maitland, who is survived by wife Linda and their two sons, died from a haemorrhage and internal injuries caused in the crash.

Mrs Clare died from multiple injuries. She leaves behind husband Stephen, Nathalie and sons Michael and Bradley.

The family lived in Medway before moving to Heath Road, Coxheath, less than a year before the tragedy.

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