FORMER mechanic Norman Clarke and his wife Doreen were killed when their car struck the central barrier, veered across the road and collided with a tree on the A494 in Flintshire.

Mr Clarke, 81, and his 78-year-old spouse were at Aston Hill on their way home to Grotton, near Oldham, from their caravan at Betws-yn-Rhos, near Abergele, which they visited three or four times a year.

In a statement read at an inquest hearing by Joanne Lees, assistant coroner for North Wales East and Central, Kirsty Hughes, who was travelling in the same eastbound direction on the dual carriageway on September 6, 2017, described how the Ford Focus passed her at high speed.

“It reminded me of police pursuits I have seen on television,” she said.

The Focus hit the central reservation then the rear offside of a Vauxhall Insignia in front of it before veering off onto a grass verge. The collision was so severe that the engine was thrown out.

Another motorist, Shirley Gelder, said it was going “like a bat out of hell” and the Vauxhall was an unmarked police car being driven by PC David Nevins of West Yorkshire Police, who said he shouted to his colleague when he saw the Focus approaching from behind at “well over the speed limit” of 50mph.

PC Nevins tried to pull into the inside lane to avoid the collision but the rear of his car was hit.

Post-mortem examinations revealed both Mr Clarke and his wife, a former book-keeper, died of traumatic chest injuries.

Mrs Clarke was not wearing a seatbelt but the assistant coroner said the belt would not have saved her.

Their son, Paul Clarke, told police that Mr Clarke had previously suffered minor strokes but was a careful driver and would have rung to ask for a lift home from Abergele had he been feeling unwell.

Ian Thompson told the inquest at Ruthin that research had shown that older drivers of automatic cars, in particular, sometimes pressed the accelerator pedal instead of the brake.

“They think they should be braking, so press harder and cannot understand why they are not slowing,” he said.

Recording a conclusion of death from a road traffic collision, Mrs Lees said: “Pedal misapplication was the most likely cause.”

Mr and Mrs Clarke were both born and brought up in Oldham, Greater Manchester and played an active part in the community.

They met while members of the same youth club and were highly regarded by their neighbours.

At the time of their deaths one neighbour Derek Burns described them as “quality”.

“They were a really nice couple and looked out for everyone here,” he added.