‘Vibrant’ young pharmacist died after car suddenly swerved off of A47

An “excellent” young pharmacist died when the car she was driving suddenly swerved off of the A47 near Swaffham and ended up in a ditch on its roof.

On Friday, Norfolk Coroner’s Court was told that Oluwafeyisayomi Esther Orangun, 24, of Lynn, might have been distracted by eating when the fatal crash happened as she travelled to work at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital on the morning of Monday, March 7, 2022.

Oluwafeyisayomi – known as Feyi – had stayed at her partner’s Swaffham home the night before, and when she said goodbye to Gabriel Bentley as he left for work earlier on the Monday, it was the last time he saw her.

The A47 at Swaffham. Picture: Google Maps
The A47 at Swaffham. Picture: Google Maps

The inquest heard that after Feyi had bought breakfast from the nearby McDonald’s drive-thru at around 8.20am, witness Lewis Hadingham was driving his van behind her Toyota Aygo on the dual carriageway in the direction of Lynn and described the roads as “quiet”.

He said, at around at about 8.26am and “for no apparent reason”, Feyi’s car suddenly moved to the left, before hitting a tree, flipping through the air and ending up upside down in a 10ft ditch.

Mr Hadingham said, in a statement read to the court, that he pulled over and put his hazard warning lights on, before calling 999 and flagging down two lorry drivers – one of which managed to get down to see the car and told him that it was “no good”.

The court was also told that Mr Hadingham flagged down a passing ambulance, with paramedic Veronica Christensen inside, and she went down to observe the patient, who had a food wrapper in her hand which did not contain food.

She also said that the driver was unconscious, not breathing and had no pulse, and at 8.50am, she “recognised that death had occurred”.

Mr Hadingham further said: “It only took five to 10 seconds from her leaving the road to being in the verge.

“I have absolutely no idea what caused the driver to come off the road like that.”

The inquest was told that he and another witness called Shaun Jenkinson had not observed any wildlife or obstruction on the road to cause such a manoeuvre.

Mr Jenkinson said, in a statement read to the court, that he thought she might have missed a turning she needed to take, due to the sudden action.

Meanwhile, a specialist report from PC Jamie Hutchin, a forensic collision investigator, found the conditions to be “fine and dry”, the road to be in a “reasonable state of repair”, and no mechanical faults with her vehicle.

“I found no faults likely to have contributed to the cause of the collision,” he said.

Her mobile phone was also not in use at the time, and there was no evidence that any other vehicles were involved.

“Consideration was given to whether she was distracted,” PC Hutchin added.

He said: “It appears possible she was eating prior to the collision. She may have become distracted and lost control.”

Feyi’s partner, Mr Bentley, said, in a written statement, that she had been in “good spirits” prior to the accident and that the pair had been planning to get married, having recently got her ring size measured.

He said Feyi did Bible study with her parents remotely and also completed regular exercise in her spare time.

“I’m really upset about what happened and I just want answers,” Mr Bentley added.

“She was not one for speeding or driving carelessly. I just can’t see any logic. I deeply miss her.”

A statement was also read from Feyi’s aunt Dr Inibiokun Orangun who told of her niece’s background, on behalf of her parents Olaide and Babatunde Orangun.

Dr Orangun said Feyi was the first of three children, who was born, lived and educated in Lagos, Nigeria, before moving to the UK to complete her A-Levels in Shropshire and study pharmacy at Keele University.

Due to her achievements, she was nicknamed the “golden girl” among her family and friends.

After graduating with first class honours in 2019, she was posted to a placement at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and passed in 2021, after which she was retained in the role.

One of the hospital’s top pharmacists had described her as an “excellent pharmacist”, who had an “intelligent approach” since the beginning of her career and got a “deserved” promotion.

Dr Orangun said Feyi was also part of a Bible study group and a member of a church in Lynn, and enjoyed an “active” social life.

“Our precious Feyi was a vibrant young lady whose goal in life was to help others,” the Orangun family said.

“She will forever be in our hearts.”

Alice Webster, chief executive at the QEH, said: “On behalf of the Trust I extend my condolences to Fey’s family.

“Fey was a much-loved and valued colleague and her sad death impacted many colleagues at QEH.

“Our thoughts are very much with Fey’s family recognising this must be a very difficult day.”

A post-mortem report from Dr Hesham ElDaly said toxicology tests revealed no drugs or alcohol in her blood samples, and there was no evidence of “food aspiration”.

He said she died of multiple traumatic injuries due to a road traffic collision.

Area coroner for Norfolk Yvonne Blake said Feyi had not applied her brakes during the crash and tyre marks left on the road were caused by “harsh” steering to the left.

“It might have been someone trying to correct their steering. The car flipped over several times and we don’t know why,” she said.

“She may have been distracted, but we don’t know. To try and theorise would be speculative.

“The road was free of debris. The unsatisfactory answer is we will never know why it did happen but we only know that it did.

“She died as a result of those injuries at the scene.”

Ms Blake gave a short form conclusion that Feyi had died as a result of a road traffic collision.

She described Feyi as an “extremely popular young woman” and offered her condolences to her friends and family.