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Ralph and Brenda Jenkins killed in Tilehurst by motorist who suffered apparent medical episode, inquest told

A PAIR of retired headteachers were killed instantly by a driver who apparently blacked out at the wheel.

Ralph and Brenda Jenkins, both aged 84, were mown down by a silver Mercedes-Benz A170 while walking near their home in Park Lane, Tilehurst, on October 6, 2022.

Ralph and Brenda Jenkins
Ralph and Brenda Jenkins

Poignant CCTV footage of the seconds leading up to the tragedy, screened at an inquest into their deaths held in Reading Town Hall on Friday, February 9, showed the devoted couple strolling, apparently without a care in the world, on the sunny autumn morning.

Seconds later both their lives were ended, leaving their children and grandchildren devastated.

Mr Jenkins was previously headteacher at Birch Copse Primary School and Mrs Jenkins established and taught at the nursery unit at Springfield Primary School, having previously been headteacher at Chippenham Nursery School in Wiltshire for many years.

Mr Jenkins also played cricket for Tilehurst Cricket Club and was involved in the subsequently merged Theale and Tilehurst Cricket Club.

He was treasurer for both clubs for many years before becoming president following the merger.

The couple were living at the Pegasus Court retirement complex in Park Lane and were walking nearby on the fateful morning.

The silver Mercedes was being driven by Michael Borland, a man in his 80s, when it suddenly swerved to avoid striking a Ford Galaxy driven by Lorraine Corre, which was negotiating the mini roundabout at the junction of Park Lane with Mayfair.

CCTV footage showed the Mercedes, apparently out of control, shooting across the junction towards where the Jenkins were walking, before it disappears out of shot.

The car then struck the couple before embedding itself into the wall of a nearby home.

Mr Borland was seriously injured and needed hospital treatment.

But both Mr and Mrs Jenkins sustained devastating injuries and died at the scene, despite prompt medical assistance from South Central Ambulance Service personnel.

Mr Borland, who had no alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of the accident, later told police: “'I turned into Mayfair and there was a brilliant flash that came across my eyes.

“I blinked and everything went black.

“After that I don't remember anything.

“The next thing I remember was the paramedics pulling me out of my seat.

“The tragedy that has happened has been on my mind every day; I live through it every day now.

“I couldn't believe what I saw, I was nearly sick.”

Mr Borland was not present to give live evidence because he has since died from a Covid-related illness, the inquest was told.

Berkshire assistant coroner Ian Wade said of the accident: “Suddenly emerging into view was a silver Mercedes driven by Michael Borland and his driving gives the impression of someone who had lost control of the vehicle.

“The car was under at least sufficient control that the driver steered hard to his left and there was no apparent attempt being made to slow down and stop it.

“The car entered the roundabout inappropriately and carried on in a straight line, not trying to negotiate the roads; it simply drove at a speed of 42mph straight across the junction.”

Both Mr and Mrs Jenkins died from blunt force trauma to the chest, according to a pathologist who conducted a post mortem examination.

Mr Wade said it could not be conclusively determined why Mr Borland had lost control of his vehicle but that a medical episode was a possible explanation.

“The results were catastrophic,” he added.

Mr Wade formally recorded a conclusion that the couple had died due to a road traffic collision.

In a written tribute following the tragedy, the family stated that Mr and Mrs Jenkins were “wonderful and beloved parents and grandparents”.

They added: “The family are grateful that Brenda and Ralph were able to enjoy 62 years of happy marriage and take comfort knowing they were with each other to the end.”

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