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Car Crash Mother Had Undiagnosed MS, Court Told

November 18, 2011

A driver who died along with her daughter in a road crash was in the early stages of multiple sclerosis, an inquest heard.

Ffion Merrifield, six, and mother Stephanie Curtis, 35, died on the A465 Heads of the Valleys road at Brynmawr.

The coroner, recording an accidental death verdict, said Ms Curtis’s undiagnosed condition may have been a contributory factor.

She had been taking Ffion to a hospital appointment in April.

The Gwent coroner David Bowen, sitting in Newport, was told accident investigators were baffled by what could have caused the car to plough straight into another vehicle on a busy road.

But the inquest heard Ms Curtis, a nurse, could have suffered a “medical emergency” behind the wheel – caused by the multiple sclerosis (MS).

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“Start Quote

Stephanie was a much loved, hard working mother, devoted to her children”

Family statement

‘Adventurous and energetic’

Her Peugeot “swayed out of control” and went straight into a Mercedes driven by pensioner Diane Downey, 69.

Pathologist Dr Anurag Joshi said: “MS can produce a lack of co-ordination and visual clarity and have an effect on motor strength.

“It could possibly be a contributory factor in the road incident that lead to her death.”

Ms Curtis, of Nantyglo, Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, was described by the coroner as a “loving and devoted mother”.

Mr Bowen said: “A post mortem examination showed she suffered the early stages of multiple sclerosis.

“It may have been a contributory factor, it was not diagnosed in her life and she did not know it was there.

“The loss of control was both unforeseen and unpredicted.”

Ms Curtis had been driving her daughter to a hospital appointment for a broken arm at the time of the crash in April.

She knew the road well because she worked at Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, to where she was driving, the inquest heard.

A family spokesman said: “Stephanie was a much loved, hard working mother, devoted to her children.

“Ffion was adventurous and energetic, she absolutely loved animals. She was friendly, outgoing, bubbly and absolutely loved singing.”

Her partner Darren, 36, was described as a “a devoted partner and father”. The couple also have a three-year-old daughter.

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