A “CHEERFUL and chatty” Southampton woman may have been distracted by her dog moments before she was involved in a fatal accident on a major Hampshire road, an inquest heard.

Karen Vivien Anderson was driving with her Jack Russell in the car when it careered off the A31 near Stoney Cross.

Her vehicle landed 30 metres from the road, on its side and in bushes beside the dual-carriageway.

Mrs Anderson, who lived in Shirley, Southampton, suffered substantial internal injuries in the crash and was pronounced dead on her arrival to hospital.

At her inquest, held at Winchester Coroner’s Court on Thursday, a road collision expert said Mrs Anderson may have been distracted seconds before the crash.

He also said Mrs Anderson, who suffered from a number of health conditions, may have suffered a short medical episode.

Her death, at the age of 57, was ruled as a result of a road traffic collision.

The inquest heard how Mrs Anderson was driving to see her mother on January 11 this year when she was involved in the crash on the westbound A31, just after the Stoney Cross services.

The crash took place around 6.20pm, while it was dark.

The inquest heard that two witnesses, Wayne O’Donnell and John Gooderham, saw Mrs Anderson’s maroon coloured Citroen swerve towards the central reservation, before swerving back off the carriageway.

Mr O’Donnell said the car then drove off the carriageway and into a hedge beside the road.

Both drivers stopped to help Mrs Anderson, who was concious but trapped in the vehicle – which had landed with the driver’s side door against the floor.

Police arrived soon after and found Mrs Anderson responsive, with her Jack Russell sitting in the footwell of the car.

Firefighters and the South Central Ambulance Service’s (SCAS) Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) helped free her from the vehicle.

The inquest heard Ms Anderson went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing as paramedics attempted to transfer her to Southampton General Hospital – where she was pronounced dead.

In a post-mortem examination, Doctor Vidhi Bhargava, found Mrs Anderson had suffered fractures to her chest and ribs in the crash.

She also found internal bleeding around her stomach area, from which Mrs Anderson died.

Doctor Bhargava also found a “lethal” level of anti-depression medication, used to treat Mrs Anderson’s bi-polar condition.

She said this may have built up due to Mrs Anderson’s various health complications, including with her liver and kidneys.

Doctor Bhargava said such a level may have lead to a minor medical episode – though she raised doubt as Mrs Anderson was reportedly taking her medication at regular intervals, with the help of partner and carer Clarence Plummer.

Now-retired collision expert, Anthony Johnson, of Hampshire Constabulary, said the angle that Mrs Anderson had driven off the road made it likely she was either distracted, possibly by her dog, or suffered a short medical episode prior to the crash.

In his summary, Senior Coroner Christopher Wilkinson said: “There were two possible scenarios [as to the reason for the crash].

“One is the fact Mrs Anderson could have been distracted by something in the vehicle, perhaps her dog, or equally she suffered some sort of acute medical episode.

“It is clear that she was suffering with medical conditions throughout her life. On the balance of probability I cannot say which one it was.”

Following the death of Mrs Anderson, who lived in Tintern Grove, Southampton, family members paid tribute to her, describing her as “a cheerful, chatty woman to anyone who listened” and saying: “She will truly be missed by [her] family and friends.”