THE death of mum of two after her car went into Stithians Lake could have been avoided if some sort of capture barrier had been in place rather than a link fence, an inquest in Truro has heard.

Hazel Brown, 29, who worked as a children's play co-ordinator and co-play leader of Acorns Parent and Toddler Group, Highway Church in Penryn, died on May 16 last year after her silver Ford Fiesta left the road as she returned from a gathering at friend's nearby. Police described the weather conditions at the time as "terrible" with mizzle and fog.

Motor patrol officer Lisa Gordon told the inquest that she arrived at the scene of the accident at 8.52pm after receiving a call from a member of the public saying a vehicle was upside down in Stithians Lake.

Her colleague PC Richard Kendall had entered the water to try and free any occupant. He managed to get to the front of the vehicle and tried to feel around and believed he felt something. As he was coming out the fire brigade arrived and went into the water.

When they searched the back of the vehicle they found that the boot was open and were able to feel Hazel but at first were unable to get her out. They eventually extracted her from the vehicle and she was taken to the Royal Cornwall Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

MPC Gordon said that the accident happened a short distance from the friend's house she had just left.

"It would appear Hazel had been at a gathering and had left on her own," she said. "Her husband Ben had left previously with the children. When she left, she left at speed. Witnesses described hearing the vehicle leaving at speed. We had dashcam footage from a member of the public showing the fence was down."

She said nobody saw or heard the accident happen, not even a cyclist going round the reservoir at the same time. She said when the car was found it was submerged with only the bottom visible.

Sgt Steve James told the inquest that there had never been any fatal accidents on that stretch of road but there was evidence of numerous other accidents through detritus on the road and anecdotal evidence of people who lived there.

"The police aren't always notified of these accidents," he said.

Crash scene investigator PC Paul Frost said while there were no skid marks on the wet road once it was dried, marks were found showing a "scouring" of the road by a vehicle. These were not conventional skid marks but cleaning marks caused by the tyres removing surface contaminants.

He said in his opinion as the Fiesta negotiated the bend to the left, Hazel had started to lose control as the car started to yaw, she had tried to rectify it by instinctively taking her foot off the accelerator which made the car oversteer in the other direction and down into the reservoir.

"The loss of control occurred because the vehicle speed was beyond where the driver felt comfortable going round the bend," he told the inquest.

Coroner Barry Vandenberg asked PC Frost if better fencing along the side of the lake would have helped."It may have helped if designed to capture a vehicle," he replied.

Adrian Roberts from Cormac, Cornwall Council's engineering arm, told the coroner he was attending the inquest as a fact finding exercise.

He said that the lake was opened in 1967 when there were different road standards allowed.

"If building a road next to a large body of water now," he said. "We would build something to prevent vehicles going into the water."

"We would consider whether some sort of fencing would be appropriate. We would have to negotiate with other landowners. "My view it will be rendering some other works to physically prevent vehicles going into the lake."

He said he was going to take this back to Cornwall Council as a recommendation.

A pathologist recorded the cause of death as drowning although, as the lungs did not contain much water, it was classed as a 'dry' drowning caused when the body goes into shock.

As he recorded that Hazel had died as a result of a car accident, Mr Vandenberg offered his deepest sympathy to the family saying the circumstances were "heartbreaking".

Mrs Brown, aged 29, worked as a children's play co-ordinator and co-play leader of Acorns Parent and Toddler Group.