Student’s fatal A21 plunge ruled as misadventure

Student's fatal A21 plunge ruled as misadventure
Azra Kemal, who died on the A21

Azra Kemal was travelling home to London with a friend in the early hours of July 16 when the car they were in burst into flames, forcing them to flee.

However, the talented trainee lawyer plunged through a gap between the two sides of the carriageway.

An inquest into her death resumed at the Shepway Centre in Maidstone, Kent, on Monday.

Ms Kemal’s mother sat at the front, accompanied by her daughter’s godparents.

The inquest previously heard that Ms Kemal and a companion had been travelling back to London from East Sussex when their car caught fire around 2.35am while on the A21 near Tonbridge.

The pair escaped from the blazing Ford Focus and crossed the road to seek help.

As Ms Kemal sought to make her way back across the road, she is believed to have fallen down a gap in the central reservation and suffered “catastrophic” injuries.

Her mother, Nevres Kemal, spoke to the hearing about what had happened to her daughter and questioned witnesses.

She called for CCTV, lighting, a barrier and signs to be installed at the location, as well as a hard shoulder.

She told the inquest: “My daughter lost her life. May she be the last person who loses her life – or their life – please can you ensure that this is reviewed.”

In response, Nicola Bell, from Highways England, said: “Any accident is absolutely tragic and I am sorry for your loss and there are some points today that you raised that I will of course take away.”

The inquest heard that Ms Kemal had been a “miracle baby” after her mother was told she might not be able to have children.

After achieving three A*s at A-level she went on to begin training to be a lawyer.

Her mother described her as a “tormented soul” and the inquest heard that her “mission” was to help those in her community who were less fortunate.

Assistant coroner Alan Blunsdon concluded that Ms Kemal died as a result of misadventure.

He said he was satisfied that she had consumed alcohol to the level where she was observed to be unsteady on her feet.

He added: “The likely physical impairment caused by consumption of alcohol and the emotional rollercoaster experienced by Azra that night are likely to have contributed to a lack of clear judgment.”

This, he said, would have combined with the darkness and her fleeing from a burning car, as well as her knowledge that she had just safely crossed the road further down.

He also paid tribute to Ms Kemal’s mother, who, he said, had been present in “harrowing circumstances” on both days of the inquest.

Mr Blunsdon pledged to write to Highways England to see if changes could be made to the location to prevent similar incidents.

Speaking after the inquest, Ms Kemal described her daughter as “feisty” and “full of life” who never tried to deny who she was.

She added: “Azra was everything you could possibly imagine.

“She had frankness and honesty and integrity, which is a gift.”

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter