It was the ultimate expression of road rage. A furious woman driver in England died after ramming another vehicle and spinning her wheels so fast that her own car burst into flames.
Serena Sutton-Smith, 54, burned to death after refusing to get out of her Vauxhall Nova as she sat with her foot flat on the accelerator. She spun the wheels so fast that her tires disintegrated and the metal rims sent a shower of sparks into the engine, igniting the brake fluid and setting the car on fire.
Appalled onlookers urged her to get out of the car as the flames licked around her but she told them to “F*** off”, an inquest in Gloucester was told.
The road-rage attack took place on a quiet country road in the Cotswolds between Weston sub Edge and Mickleton in Gloucestershire. The inquest heard that Paula Small was driving her Fiat Punto when Sutton-Smith emerged from a side road without stopping, causing her to swerve to avoid a collision. Small was forced off the road and she flashed her lights as Sutton-Smith passed her.
Sutton-Smith then pulled over and Small stopped a short way in front of her. She was getting out when the Vauxhall Nova rammed her car.
Small said: “I opened my door and put my foot out but as I was getting out there was a bang and I hit my head on the door frame. I was frozen with terror.”
As neighbors came to investigate they saw Sutton-Smith sitting with a furious expression, revving her engine and spinning her wheels.
Alan Crickmore, the Gloucestershire coroner, said that her mental condition meant that she failed to appreciate the danger she was in.
He said “At no time, prior to becoming incapacitated, was Serena trapped in her vehicle. She was certainly able to get out of it.
“I am driven to the conclusion that if at any time she had wanted to do so before becoming incapacitated she could have got out of the car and would not have died as a result of the fire.
“I am satisfied the fire was started because of her deliberate actions. But I am far from satisfied that at that point in time it was her clear intention that death would ensue.
“I think it is more likely than not that she failed to understand the peril she was in and the consequences of her actions.” He recorded a verdict of accidental death.