THE inquest into the deaths of popular Bothenhampton couple Patricia and Pepe Irisarri could not explain why their car swerved across double white lines on the A31 near Red Post, east of Bere Regis.
The couple died instantly when their car veered onto the wrong side of the road and hit two trucks, an inquest in Bournemouth heard.
The accident was so shocking that both lorry drivers have been unable to continue in their jobs, Dorset coroner Sheriff Payne heard.
Mr and Mrs Irisarri, who had been married for more than 50 years, had been to visit friends in Ferndown and were on their way back to their Bridport home when tragedy struck on December 9 last year.
The inquest was told Mrs Irisarri, 72, was driving the couple’s yellow Seat Ibiza when it straddled double white lines at 5.15pm. It struck a 44-ton Volvo milk tanker, driven by Steven Robertson from Stour-paine, before spinning into the path of a 40-ton Scania articulated lorry, driven by Kevin Parfitt from Frome.
Mrs Irisarri suffered a severe head injury and her 74-year-old husband died of internal injuries as well as spinal and head injuries.
In a statement, Mr Parfitt said: “This incident has knocked all the confidence out of me. I can’t help but feel responsible for the deaths of the two occupants in the car.”
Giving evidence at the inquest, Mr Robertson added: “I could not avoid the collision. I have been having difficulty sleeping and I am shaken.”
Mr Payne said there was nothing the drivers could have done and added: “It is very sad that both of the drivers have felt the need to seek other employment. “Both have been clearly affected by what happened.”
Recording a verdict that the couple died as the result of a road traffic collision, Mr Payne said it is unknown why the Seat crossed the white lines. Father Richard Meyer, priest in charge of Bridport’s Catholic parish, said: “It was a tragic accident, obviously, which left us all very shocked.
“They are still remembered with great fondness and their loss is still felt because they were such a remarkable couple.
“Somehow one still expects to see them sitting their usual seats in church at mass on a Sunday morning.
“They were that sort of couple, your eyes were drawn to.
“You couldn’t miss them – they were so charismatic.”
The couple helped out at Chancery House Day Centre where they had been volunteers for many years. Friends and neighbours described them as a very popular, well-liked couple who ‘couldn’t do enough’ for other people.
Neighbour Hazel Tunney said at the time of the accident: “They were really lovely people and we always used to share a laugh with them.
“You would never see Pepe without a smile on his face.”
The couple celebrated their golden wedding with a special mass in the summer of 2012 at the Church of St Mary and St Catherine in Bridport.