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'Texting caused' Diss teenager Shannon Gittings' fatal crash

Shannon Gittings was killed after her car collided with a tree on October 3 last year.
Shannon Gittings was killed after her car collided with a tree on October 3 last year.

A 17-year-old girl died when her car crashed into a tree while she was texting her boyfriend, an inquest heard.

Shannon Gittings, of Shelfanger Road, Diss, died in an accident at the A140 Quaker Lane junction, near Tasburgh, on October 3 last year.

At an inquest held at Norfolk Coroner's Court today (Thursday), dash-cam footage showed how the teenager lost control of her Fiat 500 and swerved off the road, colliding with a tree.

Police investigators found nothing wrong with the vehicle, although the tyre pressure was below the recommended standard. It remains unclear whether this happened as a result of the accident or contributed to Ms Gittings' death.

During the investigations, it emerged that Ms Gittings had sent several text messages to her boyfriend, Henry Smith, in the moments leading up to the crash.

Forensic collision investigator Pc Forbes Scott said he had looked into possible causes of the accident, but could only conclude it was “highly likely” it had been as a result of her actions.

During the collision, the teen, who had only passed her driving test a month prior to her death, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem examination concluded that Ms Gittings died as a result of traumatic head injuries.

Speaking at the inquest, coroner Yvonne Blake said: "My condolences go out to all her family and friends after this tragic death, which probably wouldn't have happened if she hadn't been using her phone.

"It is a very sad death and a waste of a 17-year-old's life. It does highlight just how quickly you can lose control of your car when you are distracted. The catastrophic consequences are a message to encourage people not to use their phone while driving."

The coroner concluded that Ms Gittings died due to a road traffic collision.

In a moving tribute to their daughter shortly after her death, parents Andrew and Lindsey Gittings described Shannon as an “amazing young lady who was loved by so many people.”

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