Suzanne Cornwell’s friend cancelled ambulance after teen’s go-kart accident at Caxton track, inquest hears

FRIENDS of a teenager who died after a go-karting accident cancelled an ambulance after she showed signs of recovery, an inquest into her death was told.

Suzanne Cornwell, of Limes Road, Hardwick, was completing her first lap of the Cambridge Raceway indoor track, at Caxton, on December 10, 2009, when she crashed and spun her go-kart as her scarf had been caught in the rear axle of her kart after being asked on an out-of-hours session by track marshall Andrew Kivlin.

Her friends, Jessica Hitchcock, her boyfriend Christopher Hamilton, her brother William, Mr Hamilton’s sister Victoria, and Melissa Rees-Howell, raced to save her life as she was being stangled by the scarf.

As Mr Hamilton was cutting the scarf free from her neck, Mr Hitchcock rang for an ambulance, but he then cancelled it, under Mr Kivlin’s instructions, as Suzanne had started to splutter and showed signs of improvement.

When he realised Suzanne wasn’t recovering, two to three minutes later, he rang again. She was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where she died a day later of “ligature strangulation”.


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Mr Kivlin, 24, told the coroner, David Morris, that he didn’t realise it was Suzanne’s first time go-karting although it was her first time under his supervision.

“I helped Suzanne put her helmet on as she was finding it difficulty finding one that fitted as she was so small,” he said, “As I did this I told her a few basic instructions and if she wasn’t enjoying it to pull over.”

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Mr Kivlin said he had told Mr Hitchcock to cancel the ambulance as he believed he could take her there quicker by car, but later revealed his car was not at the track as his girlfriend at the time, Miss Rees-Howell, had given him a lift to work.

Tim Willitts, representing Suzanne’s family, asked Mr Kivlin if he had noticed her green scarf, as it would have been contrasting to her blue top she was wearing. He replied: “If I had seen it had taken it off.”

Mr Hitchcock told the hearing: “I saw her crash, I looked back and saw her still, with her head flailed back to the left of the kart. As she stayed still I presumed she was waiting for someone else to catch up.”

Paul Shinn, appointed volunteer manager at the track after Phil Meakins took over the Kart Sport in September, said he left earlier in the year.

“I took him under my wing, I trusted him,” he said, “Andy [Kivlin] knew that if he held out-of-hours sessions he wouldn’t have a job. If I wasn’t at the track supervising these things weren’t to happen and they [the marshals] knew that.”

Mr Shinn said Mr Kivlin had called him to say: “I [messed] up, I let some friends onto the track and one has been badly hurt”.

Mr Kivlin added: “Paul {Shinn] and Phil [Meakins] didn’t seem to have any concerns about how Suzanne was in hospital.”

Suzanne’s brother Stuart told the hearing that he took a lot of care for his younger sister and that if she had told him about her plans, he would advised her not to go.

In a statement, the family said: “Suzanne was full of life and wanted to make something of her life. She was a carer to her dad, who has Parkinson’s Disease, and a carer and sharer to her mum.

“Suzanne has left a massive hole in our lives that will never be filled. We will always remember her for ever more.”

The Long Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge, student lived with her father David, mother Wendy and her brother.

The hearing continues.

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