Location, location, location Star Phil Spencer’s mother, 82, and father, 89, were trapped underwater for 20 minutes when the car fell from the bridge in a horrific crash that killed them, an inquest heard.
- Anne Spencer, 82, and her husband Richard, 89, died after the accident in August
The mother of TV presenter Phil Spencer died of a lung infection and brain injury after being submerged under water for up to 20 minutes following a car crash on the family farm, an inquest has heard.
Anne Spencer, 82, and her husband Richard, 89 They both died after their car plunged into a river at Lower Garrington Farm in Littleburn, near Canterbury, in August.
An inquest into Anne’s death was opened at the county hall in Maidstone, Kent today. Phil previously revealed that his mother suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
North East Kent coroner Sarah Clarke told the court Anne was driving her Toyota down a private driveway from the family home towards a bridge on their land, which runs over the Neilbourne River, at around 12.20pm on August 18.
Her husband, Richard, was in the front passenger seat of the car, and Veronica Francis, the couple’s full-time caregiver, was in the back passenger seat.
It was stated at the beginning of the investigation that when the car approached the bridge, it slid off the edge and overturned, submerging its three occupants in three feet of water.
Ms Clark said the carer was able to escape through the passenger window and call for help.
But the court was told that Richard and Anne were underwater for about 20 minutes.
Paramedics arrived and took the couple to the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate, Kent, where Anne was pronounced dead at 9.55pm.
Ms. Clark said her cause of death was aspiration pneumonia, hypoxic brain injury and submersion in water (near drowning).
Aspiration pneumonia is defined as inflammation and infection of the lungs or large bronchi due to inhalation of food or liquids.
Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury occurs when the brain experiences a decrease in oxygen or blood flow.
Read more – Flowers have been left on the bridge where TV star Phil Spencer’s parents died
“Ms Spencer was a farmer and was born on May 22, 1941 in Canterbury,” Ms Clarke told the inquest. She was married to Richard David Edward Spencer, who was also a farmer.
Mrs Spencer died on 18 August 2023 at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Kent. Identification was handled by the police and her family.
“The circumstances, as I understand them, are that at approximately 12:20 p.m. on August 18, Ms. Spencer was driving her Toyota. Her husband was sitting in the front passenger seat, and their full-time direct caregiver was sitting in the back passenger seat.
“Mrs Spencer drove from her home down a driveway towards a junction crossing the Neilbourne River.
“As the vehicle approached the bridge, which was steeply sloped and had a sharp edge, it rolled over the edge, struck the river bed and overturned, submerging all three occupants in three feet of water.
“The carer escaped through the passenger window and called for help. It is believed Mr and Mrs Spencer were underwater for up to 20 minutes.
“Paramedics arrived at 12.57pm and took Mr and Mrs Spencer to the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital.
Ms Spencer was pronounced dead at 9.55pm while in hospital.
“The cause of death was determined to be: 1a) aspiration pneumonia and hypoxic brain injury and 1b) immersion in water (near drowning).”
Mrs Clarke has scheduled a full inquest into the deaths of Anne and Richard for 3.30pm on 19 December at Oakwood House in Maidstone.
Last month, a County Hall inquest heard that Phil’s father died from a lung injury after nearly drowning in a car crash on the family farm.
On October 30, Ms Clarke told the court that David failed to regain consciousness after the accident and was pronounced dead in hospital.
Read more: TV star Phil Spencer reveals how his brother fought in vain to save their parents by using a pen knife to cut their seatbelts and pull them from the river when their car crashed but says they ‘never regained consciousness’
His cause of death was determined to be aspiration pneumonia – an infection of the lungs – on the basis that he had nearly drowned.
TV star Phil paid tribute to his amazing parents in an Instagram post on August 20, revealing that the couple were out to lunch at the time of the accident.
He also shared that his mother had Parkinson’s disease and David was diagnosed with dementia.
Phil wrote: “So sad that my wonderful parents passed away on Friday.
“As a family, we all try to hold on to the fact that mom and dad went together, and that neither will ever have to mourn the loss of the other. Which is a blessing in itself.
“Although they had been doing very well the previous days (hence the sudden idea of going out to lunch),”
Parkinson’s disease in mothers and fathers was getting worse and the long-term future was challenging.
“My mother told me just a week ago that she had given up thinking, ‘Now it looks like we’ll probably go together.’ And so they did.
This was what God had planned for them, and it was a good plan.
“The car, which was traveling very slowly, overturned over an embankment on the farm road, upside down in the river.
He added: “There were no physical injuries, and I highly doubt that they would have fought. They would have held their hands under the water and slipped out quietly.”
He added: “The carer was in the car and managed to get out through the back window so the alarm was raised very quickly.”
“As many farmers do – my brother had a knife and was therefore able to cut the seatbelts – he pulled them out of the river but they never regained consciousness.
“Despite the intense grief and shock beyond all expectations – the entire family is clear that if there could ever be such a thing as a ‘good ending’ – this was it.”
Phil added: “It feels awful now, but after almost 60 years of marriage, dying together on the farm they loved so much will, I know, be comforting in the future.”
“My mom and dad are together and it’s exactly where they wanted to be.”
(Tags for translation) Elephant