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Cycling wife's death 'not preventable' after couple hit by OAP's car

Elaine Dunne died and her husband Christopher was badly injured when Alice Ross, then 93, drove into them.

Named: Elaine Dunne was pronounced dead at the scene of the smash on the A99.
© STV

No precautions could have prevented the death of a cyclist who was hit by a car, a sheriff has ruled.

Elaine Dunne, 30, died and her husband Christopher was badly injured when Alice Ross, then 93, drove into them in September 2011 on the A99 in the Highlands.

A trial over the incident was dropped and a fatal accident inquiry was called when the Crown Office failed to call for medical assessments in time after Mrs Ross' lawyers said she had blacked out at the wheel of her car.

Sheriff Andrew Berry has now concluded that there were “no reasonable precautions whereby the accident might have been avoided”.

Sheriff Berry said it is “likely Mrs Ross had a blackout of some kind immediately prior to the accident” but cautioned that “no definitive diagnosis could be made”.

He added that it would be “unrealistic” burden on GPs to carry out regular medical testing of elderly drivers.

Sheriff Berry heard evidence from a range of medical experts during the inquiry at Wick Sheriff Court. He also took statements from Mrs Ross’ family.

Concerns had been raised over the pensioner’s long-term health. But the sheriff concluded that Mrs Ross had “generally enjoyed good health throughout her life.

He added: “It can also readily be said that, with limited exceptions, there existed no medical or related reason that would have caused anyone concern, however remote, as to Mrs Ross’ ability to drive.”

Sheriff Berry rejected the procurator fiscal’s suggestion that Mrs Ross should have taken medical advice after she became “unaware of her surroundings” during a visit to her cousin’s home a month before the collision. Mrs Ross surrendered her driving license following the incident.

Sheriff Berry concluded: “I offer my condolences to them and to the extended family and friends of Mr and Mrs Dunne.”

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