AN ELDERLY woman has died and her husband is critically ill in hospital after they were involved in a horror smash on the A30.
Alma Rose Batty, 81, of Epping in Essex, was pronounced dead at the scene of the two-car collision on the Hayle bypass last Friday.
The main route in and out of west Cornwall was shut for more than six hours following the incident, causing miles of tailbacks and major delays for motorists.
"It was carnage," said Bobby Vanderplank, head of motors for The Cornishman, who drove past the site less than a minute after the fatal smash.
"There were two cars on the bank and I knew it must be serious."
Police arrived at the scene near Loggans Moor roundabout at around 2.10pm on Friday. A Vauxhall Astra and Ford Mondeo estate had been involved in the incident.
A Penzance fire crew also raced to the scene and used crash rescue equipment to cut both pensioners free from the Astra.
An 80-year-old man was airlifted to Derriford Hospital, Plymouth with serious injuries. PC Jamie Adams, the investigating officer, said the victim was still being treated by hospital staff.
The Mondeo driver, partner and their child suffered broken bones in the incident and were taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital. They have since been released.
Tailbacks caused huge problems for motorists following the crash with queues reported to have snaked back for five miles eastbound and to Penzance in the west.
Mr Vanderplank, a former special constable and trained in first aid, initially thought to stop and offer his assistance.
"I was ready to help but there was a fireman there and paramedics just arriving; they got there very quickly," he said. Instead, he drove past the scene to the St Erth roundabout warning upcoming drivers about the incident. "I put my arm out and started waving it while flashing my lights to let people know what was coming up ahead," he said.
PC Adams said that the woman's next of kin have been informed and formal identification has taken place.
He refused to go into detail about the circumstances surrounding the crash and instead appealed for witnesses to come forward.
"I do not want to speculate on how it happened," he said. "Until all the inquiries have finished we will not be sure. We have evidence to suggest the road was busy at the time and it was witnessed by a lot of people."
This is the only fatality on the bypass during the past three years, according to figures given to The Cornishman by Cornwall Council.
Adrian Roberts, the authority's safety engineer, said there had been five accidents on the road.
In one, a motorist suffered slight injuries and there were two that were more serious, in which speed and inexperience were thought to have been contributory factors.
In comparison, the route through Hayle town centre saw no fatalities, two serious incidents and 21 where a person suffered a slight injury.
"The bypass is not a particularly dangerous section of route and doesn't have a high accident record or large cluster of accidents," he said.
The council worker added that, although the 4km stretch of road is under the responsibility of the Highways Agency, Cornwall Council will still be involved in information gathering following any incidents. The authority will use the figures to decide where to introduce safety schemes.
Anyone with information about the accident is asked to contact the police on 101, quoting reference 0427 of August 31.