AN INQUEST into the deaths of three family members killed in the same road crash has been halted after hearing a road sign telling drivers not to attempt a turn was not working.
Vasumati Patel, 63, was driving her blue Honda on the A30 Great South West Road close to the junction of Hatton Road and Hatton Cross Tube station.
Also in the car was her younger brother, 56-year-old Rajendra Patel, her nephew Jaydeep Patel, 18, and her brother-in-law (Jaydeep's father), Niranjanbhai Patel, 57.
The four were heading to Heathrow's Terminal 4 at 6am on January 17 for a flight to India, where they were to celebrate Niranjanbhai's older son's wedding in Gujarat.
They mistakenly missed the turning, and, in treacherous conditions caused by heavy rain, were attempting a U-turn at a spot where right turns were forbidden, when the car was hit by a van.
Having been part-heard, however,
the inquest was adjourned by coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe because it emerged that the no right turn sign, underneath the green traffic light, had not been illuminated that morning.
A number of officers from the road death investigation unit confirmed this, and that it may not have been seen by Mrs Patel as it was dark and raining.
No right hand turn signs on traffic lights are meant to be illuminated at all times.
Rajendra, of Rayners Lane, and Niranjanbhai, of Kingsbury, were both pronounced dead at the scene, while Vasumati, of Kenton, died later that day in a central London hospital.
A post mortem examination showed that all three victims died of injuries consistent with a road traffic collision. Vasumati died of severe head, chest, abdominal and pelvic injuries; Rajendra died of severe chest, abdominal and pelvic injuries; and Niranjanbhai died of severe head, chest and abdominal injuries.
Jaydeep was the only survivor. Holding back tears to read out his statement at West London Coroners Court on Wednesday, October 12, on
what would have been his father's birthday, he said: "It was a cold day and was raining quite heavily. We headed towards Hatton Cross, when we missed our turning.
"I wasn't taking too much notice as I had my headphones in and was listening to my music and playing with my phone.
"I looked up and saw the headlights heading towards me and then I was knocked out.
"When I woke up I saw my father next to me, I knew he was dead. I remember there was a suitcase lodged between me and my father which took the impact of the crash and saved my life."
Speaking after the adjournment Vasumati's husband, Raman Patel, said: "We just want this to be all over, but if this problem with traffic signs is talked about it may prevent
another family from going through what we have.
"It has been absolutely devastating for the whole family; to lose three people who were still quite young has been very hard."
The inquest was adjourned to a date yet to be confirmed while more evidence about the road sign is gathered.
Also speaking afterwards, the driver of the van, Peter Brown, said: "The whole thing has been very traumatic for me. There was nothing I could do - there was no chance of getting out of the way.
"My thoughts are obviously with the family and I am devastated that this has all happened."
Mr Brown suffered minor injuries as a result of the crash but was treated at the scene. No arrests were made or charges brought.