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TV presenter Phil Spencer’s parents died in ‘some of most tragic circumstances ever heard’, coroner says
19 December 2023, 19:05 | Updated: 19 December 2023, 19:12
The mother and father of TV presenter, Phil Spencer, died in an accident, with their car overturning in a river, a coroner has concluded.
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Richard Spencer, 89, also known as David, and Anne Spencer, 82, were driving to lunch before their car tipped over the edge of a bridge and plunged into a river in Littlebourne, Kent, on August 18.
The couple, who were farmers, were submerged in around 3 ft of water.
They were later pronounced dead at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate.
On Tuesday, at Oakwood House in Maidstone, the area coroner for north-east Kent, Sarah Clarke said: "These circumstances are some of the most tragic I have heard."
Ms Clarke added that Mrs Spencer was driving, whilst the couple were chatting, before the "car veered very slightly to the offside" before it overturned in the Nailbourne River.
Their full-time carer, who was sitting in the back of the car, escaped and called for help.
The couple were unconscious when people tried to resuscitate them, the inquest heard.
A police report at the inquest said it was a "most tragic incident" and that despite Mrs Spencer being familiar with the road, a momentary lapse in concentration had caused the car to slip.
The report also said that the bride was mostly used as access for those residing and working on the farm, where the couple 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 also has "limited visibility" for the driver.
Police added that the family said Mrs Spencer had no issues with her driving.
Ms Clarke had previously said paramedics arrived at around 12:57pm, taking Mr and Mrs Spenser to the QEQM.
She said Mr Spencer died from a lung injury called aspiration pneumonitis due to near drowning.
Mrs Spencer died from aspiration pneumonia, a 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.
Phil Spencer paid tribute to his "amazing parents' following their death, adding that the accident was "what God had planned for them" so they could "stay together after six decades of marriage and four children.”
The Location, Location, Location presenter said at the time: "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.
"Although they were both in extremely good form in the days before (hence the sudden idea to go out to lunch), Mum's Parkinson's and Dad's dementia had been worsening and the long-term future was set to be a challenge."
"So much so that Mum said to me that she had resigned to thinking 'Now it looks like we will probably go together' - and so they did."