A RETIRED hospital worker who had a premonition that “things would not go well” on a trip to South Africa died in a bus crash while travelling there, an inquest heard.

Valerie Elizabeth Whiteman and husband Freddie had travelled extensively around the world together but decided to play it safe and visit South Africa as part of an organised trip after Elizabeth’s premonition.

But a Bournemouth inquest heard the former Royal Bournemouth Hospital medical secretary died of severe head injuries after a bus laid on by the travel company overturned, a week into their 34-day holiday.

Dorset coroner Rachael Griffin heard Mrs Whiteman, known as Elizabeth, suffered terrible injuries and that little medical assistance was available. She was one of three people killed in the crash.

An ambulance had limited equipment and the hospital she was taken to was basic with no blood available and staff “running around like headless chickens.”

The coroner was told that Mr and Mrs Whiteman, of Chigwell Road, Bournemouth were part of a group of 15 people travelling with Australia-based travel company, Intrepid.

On September 28 last year, they set off from their accommodation in Lesotho for a 12-hour coach journey.

Mr Whiteman told the inquest that he fell asleep and that the next thing he knew was that the bus was overturning.

“I saw Elizabeth lying unconscious against the window. It took a long time for help to arrive.

“The hospital was basic and they were running around like headless chickens.They had no blood and when they realised Elizabeth was 73-years-old I think they applied age priorities.”

The coroner was told that Mrs Whiteman died around four hours after the accident. A post mortem examination revealed she died of traumatic brain injury due to a skull fracture.

Mr Whiteman said the couple’s two sons, Stephen and Peter, flew to South Africa to support him and the family did as much as they could to provide detailed information for the coroner.

He said he believes the brakes may have failed on the bus after hearing from other passengers but there is no evidence to support this.

Concluding that Mrs Whiteman died as the result of a road traffic collision, Mrs Griffin said: “I am satisfied that the road traffic collision was due to the driver taking evasive action to reduce the speed of the vehicle.”