A confused pensioner killed himself and an innocent motorist when he did a U-turn on a darkened motorway and drove into on-coming traffic, an inquest heard.
Cyril Titcombe, 84, who was concerned about his failing memory, missed his junction on the M4 as he drove himself and his wife home from holiday.
He mistook a works junction for the next exit and pulled back onto the same eastbound carriageway heading the wrong way in the outside lane.
His blue Mazda 323 smashed head-on with a VW Passat doing up to 85mph.
Mr Titcombe died instantly and VW driver Tunay Guillym, 48, was pronounced dead shortly after.
Mrs Titcombe’s wife Sheila was knocked unconscious but survived with a broken arm.
She told a coroner how the couple were heading home to Blunsdon, Wilts., from their regular holiday in Ibiza when the smash happened in July.
They had made the journey from Bristol Airport many times but usually travelled during the day, she added.
But on this occasion in July their flight was changed and they were driving home in the dark.
In a statement to the inquest in Newbury, Berks., Mrs Titcombe said she noticed her husband had missed their junction.
“I said to Cyril, ‘where are you going?’, I told him to find somewhere to turn around,” she said.
“He said he was and we carried on driving for 10 minutes. I was very tired and nodding off.”
Mrs Titcombe said she then saw a turn-off and the couple came off the motorway.
She added: “The next thing I remember was a really loud bang, I realised we had been hit by a car.
“I said to Cyril, ‘what have you done?’ He was pushed to my side of the car.
“I think I was knocked out and when I came around there was glass smashing everywhere.”
HGV driver Steven Daly said he saw a car, thought to have been Mr Titcombe’s, perform a U-turn in the road.
He said: “I wondered whether he got confused, thinking that was a turn-off. I could see he stopped in the first lane.
“I’m approaching, slowing down and I thought should I pull over or overtake, but before I could make my mind up the car did a U-turn and went up the eastbound carriageway in the third lane.”
Motorist Russell Thirkettle said he was overtaken by Mr Guillym’s car, which he thought was travelling at 80 to 85mph.
He said: “I could see the car that passed me was about 100 metres in front. There was a glimmer of brake lights and the car inclined violently.
“He swerved to his right, then the impact. It all happened within a fraction of a second. There was an explosive collision.”
The crash happened around halfway between J14 at Hungerford and J13 at Newbury.
Post mortems showed both men died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, although the inquest was told Mr Guillym, who was from Swindon, could have survived if he was wearing a seatbelt.
The inquest heard that Mr Titcombe had been concerned about his poor memory prior to the crash.
Michael Burgess, assistant deputy coroner for Berkshire, recorded a verdict that both men’s deaths had been accidental after Mr Titcombe drove the wrong way down the road.
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