Woman with manic depression rams another car until hers bursts into flames, and dies

This is a grim story.

BBC Link

Daily Mail 

(the only two sources that mention her illness)

A driver burnt to death after refusing to leave her vehicle when it was set alight following a crash, an inquest was told.

Serena Sutton-Smith, 54, who suffered bipolar disorder, was said to have become enraged after crashing on the B4632 in the Cotswolds on 30 April.

Witnesses said she sat tight in her burning Vauxhall Nova, even though people were urging her to get out.

Gloucestershire Coroner Alan Crickmore recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The hearing was told that Ms Sutton-Smith had narrowly avoided hitting Paula Small’s Fiat Punto on the road between Weston-sub-Edge and Mickleton before deciding to ram it.

She then put her foot on the accelerator and left it there, causing the tyres to disintegrate and sparks to fly into the brake fluid.

The former bar worker had come out of a side road without stopping, forcing Ms Small to swerve on to a grass verge, the inquest at Shire Hall, Gloucester, was told.

Enraged expression

Ms Small was stepping out when Ms Sutton-Smith’s Nova piled into her without warning.

Residents who gathered at the scene said they saw Ms Sutton-Smith at the wheel with an enraged expression, revving her engine and spinning the wheels.

She was urged to get out of car before she was burnt alive, but the pleas were met with abusive language.

Gloucestershire Coroner Alan Crickmore, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said the troubled woman had not grasped the life-threatening nature of the situation, due to her condition.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, causes dramatic mood swings.

What do you think; manic rage coupled with a lack of inhibition and regards for her safety?  Or just mentalism unspecified?  Either way, taking that to death is unfathomable.   I can’t think of a rational explanation for her actions that don’t involve her illness, to be honest.   I’ve read, and known, people who were manic and who trashed their cars (one of the reasons I’ve never learned to drive, I imagine myself screaming down motorways cackling) but never anything this extreme.  I don’t understand how a rational, or even irrational person wouldn’t get out of the car.  

Either way, what a sad ending for a rather young woman.

 (I do also want to say- Bloody hell!  That’s going to be an awkward eulogy).

9 Responses

  1. I agree with you – either way, for whatever underlying reason, this is a sad ending for someone. As to what was going through her mind, even the most educated theory can only be speculation.

  2. Driving is sheer hell. I quit years ago and have never looked back since – my car was just another straw on this camel`s back.

  3. “Gloucestershire Coroner Alan Crickmore, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said the troubled woman had not grasped the life-threatening nature of the situation, due to her condition”… Not going to do those of us “sane” enough to function in the real world with bipolar any favours, that type of comment :S

  4. A sobering tale. I’m not sure about the coroner’s verdict, but I assume he was erring on the side of kindness regarding the woman’s family since nothing could be proven.

    It made me think back to August 2007, when during the 1 1/2 hours it took me to get to S—— I was shouting and screaming and playing a game where I’d try to just fall short of kissing the bumper of the cars in front. I was on my way to throw myself off the cathedral. These days I’ve learned when not to drive. Just last Wed I pulled over and asked my wife to take over because the urge to overtake everything had become paramount and ridiculous.

    My behaviour on the way to the cathedral was hideously selfish – though I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to see it like that at the time – I just wanted to cause an accident so I would stop driving to the cathedral to kill myself. However, when I got there, I set up all the safety fencing down below – my “dropzone” so as not to hurt anyone. Bizarre. Thankfully I bungled the leap, thank goodness.

    P.S. I googled the mail article – and like a fool I read all the comments. Now I’m fuming! Serves me right.

    • I really cant stand the daily mail and I’m fuming too after reading those comments. I know its an old article but I took great pleasure in rating each answer, it made me feel better about there being so many ignorant people in the world.

  5. That’s horrible. Poor lady.

  6. i can’t think of a rational explanation either – and it’s a horrible story for all concerned regardless of any illness. i just hope it doesn’t add to the pile of weapons that people like daily mail readers/writers seem to think it’s ok to use against mentally ill people.

  7. this woman obviously rationalised her actions to herself perhaps she was angry or had just had enough , certainly she was reckless. once people are dead though iy doesnt really matter how they got to be in the grand scheme of things and would we be discussing this womans death if she had died of an overdose, a cliff fall , walking in front of a bus etc? of course not. we simply pick and choose which media reported suicides or accidents to dwell on so as to rotate them around what horrifies us.i dont think thats necessarily done out of any real feeling for the deceased or those who were close to them.

    whats unfathonable to me is why we have such a problem understanding why people – not just those with MH issues – give up on living and take their own lives.

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