A DEVOTED couple lost their lives in a horror smash after the driver whose vehicle hit their car was stung by a bee.
David and Sheila Johnson, who were married for 46 years, were killed in a head-on crash between their car and a minibus on Penistone Road, Shepley, last June 29.
Mr Johnson, 66, and his 65-year-old wife, who lived at Ashton-under-Lyne were on their way to a caravan site near York for a holiday when they tragedy happened at about 3pm.
A Huddersfield inquest heard that the couple's Volvo was struck by 26-year-old driver Andrew Workman after he lost control of the Ford Transit minibus.
He became distracted when a bee flew through the open window of the minibus and stung him on the crotch.
He failed to negotiate a bend during the commotion and swerved across the road into the path of the couple, who were travelling in the opposite direction.
Mr Johnson, a retired builder, died instantly, but his wife was able to speak to paramedics before losing consciousness.
Pathologist Dr George Thomas told the inquest the couple died from multiple injuries.
Mr Johnson suffered a number of fractured ribs, back injuries and a torn aorta.
Mrs Johnson had fractures to her ribs and ankle and suffered internal bleeding.
Witnesses who were present at the tragedy gave evidence.
Thomas Hanks was travelling in front of the minibus when the accident happened.
He said: "We went towards the bend and as I took the tightest part I looked in my rear-view mirror.
"I saw the Transit on the last part of the bend. It didn't take it. It went straight across it.
"I remember thinking something was going to happen and I just heard a big bang and the Volvo collided with the Transit.
"I put my car into reverse and got out of it. I ran towards the incident. There was fuel on the road.
"I went to the Volvo and tried to open the driver's door, but it wouldn't open.
"I could see the driver; he was laid forward over the steering wheel.
"I heard screaming from the other side. I ran round the passenger side. She (Mrs Johnson) went to get out of the vehicle. I tried to tell her she would be OK.
"I thought everybody would be OK."
He added that at no time when he was driving near the Transit did he think there was any irresponsible driving."
The inquest was given a written statement from Werner Welgemoed, from Honley, who was a passenger in the minibus and was injured in the crash.
It said: "We were travelling home from work when a bumble bee flew into the bus on the driver's side and settled into his crotch.
"He and I looked down and as we looked up we crossed on to the other side of the road and cars were coming towards us. I passed out."
Mr Workman, from Honley, spoke at the inquest only to confirm what had happened.
In a statement he gave at Huddersfield police station he said was driving towards New Mill when he was stung and could not stop in time to avoid the crash.
Keith Rayner, a road accident investigator for West Yorkshire Police, told the inquest there was nothing wrong with the surface of the road when the accident happened.
He estimated both vehicles were travelling at a combined speed of no more than 90mph.
He said there was a suitcase in the back of the couple's car and loose piles of wood, which hit their seats on impact, adding to the couple's injuries.
Coroner Roger Whittaker recorded a verdict of accidental death. He said: "Although Mr Johnson veered to the left he was unable to avoid the collision.
"Mr Workman was distracted by the bee and that simple distraction caused his vehicle to veer across the road.
"There are lessons to be learned for all drivers in that everyone should try and avoid distractions.
"This should also be a warning to owners of vehicles when carrying heavy items.
"Nobody realises the energy generated by them upon impact.
"In this case they did complicate the injuries sustained."
Mr Whittaker expressed his deepest sympathy to the couple's son, Anthony Johnson, who was at the inquest.
He also offered sympathy to Mr Workman, who he described as "upset beyond measure" by the tragedy.