A DRIVER did not have enough time to swerve out of the way before she struck and killed a woman lying on a rural road at night, an inquest has heard.

Catherine McGonagle, 34, from East Challow, was killed in the accident on the A417 at Ardington just east of Wantage shortly after 9pm on Monday, January 16.

At an inquest into her death at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court yesterday, friends and family heard how frantic efforts were made by Amy Robins to avoid hitting Miss McGonagle with her grey Peugeot, but that it was too late.

On the night of her death, forensic investigators said that Miss McGonagle, an accounts advisor, died of injuries consistent with being struck by a car.

Another driver, Jacqueline Routledge, said in a statement that she had already moved out of the way before parking on the opposite side of the road.

When she saw another driver coming towards where Miss McGonagle lay motionless on the unlit road, she began to wave frantically at the oncoming Peugeot, the inquest heard, flashing her lights at the driver in a bid to get her to stop.

Fighting back tears, Miss Robins said at the inquest: “I looked down at my dashboard to check if something was wrong and as I looked up I saw a dark mass in front of me.

“I tried to brake to avoid it and started to move right but I didn’t have enough time to avoid it.”

Dr Nick Hunt, forensic pathologist, said that Miss McGonagle died of ‘multiple injuries’ from the accident.

He added: “They are of such severity that nothing could have been done to save her life. There are no injuries that suggest she was an upright pedestrian. The fatality can be explained by overrunning.”

Minutes before the crash other drivers saw her standing by the side of the road and described her as ‘staring into infinity’ and looking like ‘a zombie.’

The inquest also heard how she had battled with depression, anxiety and alcoholism in the months leading up to her death.

She had been disqualified from driving after being caught drink driving over Christmas and previously expressed suicidal thoughts to health workers saying that if she lost her licence she would end her life.

However, assistant coroner for Oxfordshire Nicholas Graham said that there was insufficient evidence to record a conclusion of suicide and instead ruled that a road traffic collision was the cause of death.