Phil Spencer’s parents died ‘in most tragic’ accident – coroner

Phil Spencer pictured in 2015
Image caption,Phil Spencer co-presents Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location

TV presenter Phil Spencer’s parents died as a result of an accident after their car overturned in a river, a coroner has concluded.

Anne Spencer died after the car she was driving tipped over the edge of a bridge and plunged into the Nailbourne River in Littlebourne, Kent.

She was travelling with her husband Richard, who also died.

In Maidstone, coroner Sarah Clarke said: “These circumstances are some of the most tragic I have heard.”

Mr Spencer, 89, known as David, and Ms Spencer, 82, were chatting as they drove to a family lunch when the car “veered very slightly” on 18 August, the coroner said.

The couple, who were farmers, were submerged in about three feet of water and were pronounced dead at Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

Their carer, who was in the back of the car, escaped through a window.

The Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate
Image caption,Mrs Spencer was taken to the QEQM hospital, where she was later pronounced dead

A police report read at the inquest said it was a “most tragic incident” and that a momentary lapse in concentration had caused the car to slip, despite Ms Spencer being familiar with the road.

The report said the bridge was primarily used as access for those residing and working on the farm, where Mr and Ms Spencer had lived and worked their whole adult lives.

The bridge was described as needing a “great deal of care as it’s extremely narrow” and had “limited visibility” for the driver.

The coroner also said Ms Spencer had passed a driving check five months earlier, in March.

Ms Spencer’s medical cause of death was previously confirmed as aspiration pneumonia, hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury and near drowning.

Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, while aspiration pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by inhaling food or liquid.

Mr Spencer died from a lung injury called aspiration pneumonitis due to near drowning.

At the time, Phil Spencer said: “As a family, we are all trying to hold on to the fact mum and dad went together and that neither will ever have to mourn the loss of the other one. Which is a blessing in itself.”

He added that with his mother having Parkinson’s and his dad having dementia, the “long-term future was set to be a challenge” but described his parents as being “amazing”.

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