Rugby star’s family pays tribute at death inquest

Keri Holdsworth training with the Scotland national team. Picture: PA
Keri Holdsworth training with the Scotland national team. Picture: PA
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The family of a former women’s rugby star killed in a horror road smash have paid an emotional tribute at an inquest into her death.

Scottish rugby player Keri Holdsworth, a 36-year-old physiotherapist from the Capital, died in hospital the day after the head-on crash with a BMW on the northbound A19 in Hartlepool, at around 4.30pm on Friday, June 13 last year.

An inquest heard that the cause of her tragic death was as a result of brain, chest and leg injuries and hypovolemic shock.

In a statement given to the inquest, her family said: “We are devastated by her loss. She leaves a gap that will never be filled and we miss her every day.”

As well as thanking the emergency services for the “expert care” she received, the family said: “Keri was an organ donor and as her family, we draw immense comfort from the fact that she was able to give others a chance of better health and a better life.”

The player, who won 15 caps for Scotland, worked as a club physio for Watsonians.

The statement said: “Sport was her life and she excelled at whatever she set her mind to, in particular rugby union at which she attained the highest representative honours playing for her country, Scotland, in the women’s 6 Nations competition and the 2010 Rugby World Cup.

“The outpouring of love and tributes for Keri from the sporting community in Scotland, in particular her club, Watsonians FC, has been overwhelming and incredibly comforting.

“We thank all those who keep Keri in their hearts and minds. Rooms, boats, benches and the newborn little girl of one of her close friends have been named after her. She meant so much to so many.”

Despite ruling a verdict of “accidental death”, coroner Malcolm Donnelly announced that he would be writing to the Highways Agency and Hartlepool Borough Council in a bid for major changes at the Dalton Piercy junction.

Mr Donnelly said: “It’s the latest in a series of incidents at this particular junction over a number of years, and as a result of which I feel compelled to alert the appropriate agencies to consider closure for vehicles turning right.”

Mr Donnelly said: “Keri was driving northbound on the A19 and there was a vehicle in front of her which had to brake suddenly because there was a van coming out of that junction.

“For reasons which we don’t know she wasn’t able to retain control of her vehicle and ended up crossing the central reservation into the fast lane of the southbound A19 carriageway and collided with a BMW car almost head-on.

“It was a high-speed impact. Keri obviously lost control of her car, that’s all that we can surmise. There were tragic consequences.”

The driver of the other vehicle received non-fatal injuries.