Former Gillingham School student Nicola Parsons, 19, may have tried to avoid animal, inquest hears
THE family of a teenage girl killed in a car crash near Wincanton say they have been offered "a bit of closure" following an inquest into her death.
Nicola Parsons, 19, died in August 2012 after her Ford Ka was in collision with a Land Rover Freelander in the Marsh Court area of Moor Lane.
An inquest held in Wells on Thursday ruled the former Gillingham School student suffered multiple injuries in an "accidental" death.
Her family and friends heard coroner Tony Williams rule she had steered onto the other side of the road – possibly to avoid hitting an onrushing animal.
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A family statement said: "The inquest offered us a bit of closure. We're pretty sure what happened and we don't need to speculate anymore.
"The worst bit was not knowing what had happened.
"It was reassuring that she didn't do anything wrong. We will never know for sure, but if an animal did run across she would have tried to miss it.
"She had a black and white cat called Ruby who was her life. Nicola absolutely loved animals and she would have done everything she could to make sure nothing was hurt.
"The family have really pulled together since what happened and have all supported each other.
"We have our good days and bad days, but having her just up the road means we can often go up and talk to her.
"Nothing will take away the pain of losing Nicola. She was so special to us all."
The teenager, who had just completed her first year studying law at London School of Economics, was travelling back to her home in Kington Magna after finishing a shift at McDonald's in Sparkford.
Her family said she "absolutely loved" the summer job.
When travelling home at around 4.30pm she collided with a Land Rover, driven by George Staniewicz.
As a result of the impact, her car plunged into a ditch on Moor Lane.
Mr Staniewicz, of Nyland, told the inquest: "In the distance I could see another car. It was clearly on my side of the road so I expected them to pull back into their lane. I soon noticed it was not moving back. The other car was heading straight towards me.
"It was like a rabbit trapped in the headlights. I knew I was going to be hit. I couldn't get out of the way in time."
Mr Staniewicz was only 10 minutes into his journey to Gloucester.
After forensics examined the crash scene, acting police sergeant PC Philip Howells said tyre marks from Nicola's car showed a "clear steer to the right".
PC Howells said: "It is my opinion that Nicola reacted to something, possibly an animal.
"It was a steer to the right rather than a drift. Something caused that steer.
"It was like she was veering away from danger and then desperately trying to recover.
"The driver of the Land Rover could not avoid the vehicle. I believe he has done all that can be expected of him in the circumstances."
Tests carried out after the incident showed no traces of alcohol in Miss Parsons' blood, while no defects were found in either of the vehicles.
Hundreds of friends and family paid tribute to Nicola at her funeral, held at All Saints Church, Kington Magna.
A lecture room in the law department at London School of Economics has since been named after her.
Her family added: "For a student to make such an impact after only a year speaks volumes about her."
A painting of a bridge in London has also been commissioned in her memory at Gillingham School.