Woman dies after van crashes into house in Somerset

Steven Morris
Neighbours were evacuated because of concerns that a gas pipe may have been damaged. Photograph: Claire Hayhurst/PA

A 90-year-old woman has been killed after a van smashed into her house in Somerset shortly after leaving a pub.

Police said they had arrested a 34-year-old woman and 33-year-old man on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and they remain in police custody.

Neighbours ran to help the woman after the vehicle crashed into the living room of her semi-detached home in the seaside town of Clevedon, but say she died instantly beneath the rubble.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said: “We’re continuing to investigate last night’s fatal collision on Yeolands Drive in Clevedon. A white Ford Transit van collided with a house causing substantial damage shortly before 8.30pm.

“Tragically, a 90-year-old woman who was inside the property at the time died as a result of the incident. The woman’s family have been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers. Formal identification has not yet taken place.”

Insp Frazer Davey added: “This was a terribly sad incident and our thoughts are with the woman’s family at this difficult time. While we’re in the early stages of our investigation we know the van involved, registration WR65 LNC, left the Crab Apple pub moments before colliding with the house.

“We have already reviewed some CCTV from the local area and as a result of this process we have identified a witness who we’d like to talk to. At about 8.25pm someone is seen talking to the occupants of the van outside the pub.

“I’m keen for this person to call us as soon possible as I believe they may have information which could help our inquiry. We’re also keen to speak to anyone who may have seen the van in the moments before the collision. The van is quite distinctive as it is white with a black bonnet and two white stripes. It also has ladders on the roof.”

Julie Elson, 57, who lives four doors away from where the crash happened, said: “The lady was on the phone to her great-granddaughter at the time and she [the great-granddaughter] heard the bang and came down the road in her nightie because she lives in the area. She was hysterical, screaming.

“She heard the whole thing over the phone, the poor girl. The lady would always speak to you, a true neighbour.

“Everything was manic last night. Everybody is shocked. My eyes have been welling up this morning. I’m so sad. She was still very lively and hadn’t long given up driving.”

Another neighbour, Robert Cornock, 71, was one of the first to enter the house after the crash. He said the woman had lived there for more than 35 years.

Cornock, a painter and decorator, said: “I was cutting the grass in the back garden and heard a terrific bang. Me and my neighbour went in. We called her name, but couldn’t see her at all because she was buried underneath the rubble in the living room. She wouldn’t have known anything about it, it would have been so quick.

“She was a friend of mine; I’d decorate her house and have a cup of tea with her now and then. She worked in a munitions factory in Coventry during the second world war.”

The woman’s next-door neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I opened the door to see what this loud crash was and a guy was screaming: ‘Gas get out!’ My daughter was asleep upstairs and I had to go up and drag her out of bed.”


Police said neighbours had been evacuated as a precaution due to fears that a gas pipe had been damaged.



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