A Baldock woman died instantly after losing control of her car on the A505 near Hitchin, an inquest heard today.

Tara Kitson was driving along the A505 at 2.37pm on February 14 when she lost control of her blue Ford Fiesta and collided with a parked Mercedes Sprinter van which a man was sleeping in.

Coroner Edward Thomas, who was conducting the inquest, told the court that the 28-year-old died from “massive fatal brain injuries”.

Miss Kitson, of South Road, had attempted to move onto the inside lane of the dual carriageway as she headed towards Hitchin, but witnesses saw her veer off the road and crash into the back of the van which was parked in a layby near the turning for Offley.

The van driver, a 25-year-old man, had been sleeping across the front seats for around three to four hours, and escaped with minor injuries.

Collision investigator PC Robert Jackson told Hatfield Coroner’s Court that Miss Kitson’s rear tyres were underinflated by around 23-33 per cent more than normal, which would have made a “significant difference” to her control of the car.

Combined with her high, but legal, speed of around 70mph and the water on the road after heavy downpours, PC Jackson concluded that there “was nothing she could do” when she lost control of the car and that “it is very unlikely she would have had a full realisation of what happened.”

Investigating police officer PC Bob Hauxwell said that there were “no distractions in the car” and that the only other casualties over the past five years on this stretch of road “related to ice”.

The inquest also heard evidence from Paul Fuller who was overtaken by Miss Kitson moments before her fatal crash when he was driving on the inside lane. He said that the weather was “awful” but he had “not given it a second thought” when she drove past.

Recording an accidental verdict, Mr Thomas said: “What a tragedy it is. Tara was a very promising young lady who was highly intelligent, had done incredibly well and was very well respected. She was a talented lady who was very keen on Mahjong.

“It is such a tragedy because a special person is not here, but the family will have very happy memories of her.”

Miss Kitson was working as a computer engineer at Luton-based company SELEX, where she was being sponsored to study a Masters degree at University College London after graduating with a first class honours degree.