THREE people were killed when a man drove head-on into another car after suffering a heart attack at some stage that day, an inquest heard.

Nurse Tracy Denton, who was driving behind Richard Holmes’ Peugeot along the A1079 just after 8pm near Dunnington, said without warning it veered across the road “straight into the oncoming car”, which was a Qashqai.

Asked by coroner Jon Heath if the other driver could have done anything to avoid the collision, she said “no”.

“I could see five people between the two cars,” she said. “I didn’t know whether they were dead or alive, conscious or unconscious.”

She went to Mr Holmes’ aid while other motorists went to the aid of the four in the Qashqai.

Despite their efforts, Mr Holmes and the two rear seat passengers in the Qashqai, retired biochemist Heather Thornes, pictured, 68, of Middlecave Close, Malton, and retired receptionist Susan Hankey, 71, of Appleton-le-Street, were all declared dead at the scene. Police accident investigator Steve Gardner said of the four in the Qashqai: “They were caught up in a situation beyond their control.”

The inquest at New Earswick Friends Meeting House last Thursday heard they were on their way home from a Derwent Diggers Gardening Club event at a Kexby garden.

Mr Holmes’ friend Andrew Minto said the 44-year-old was sick twice while working at Skelton, near York, on July 2, 2018, and said he felt dizzy at 4.30pm. He seemed better when he left an hour later.

Mr Holmes’ wife Anne-Marie gave evidence that he phoned her twice to say he had stopped as he drove home towards Middleton-on-the-Wolds near Driffield and complained of a headache which felt as though “someone was squeezing his head”.

In his report, pathologist Craig Bratten of York Hospital said Mr Holmes had had a heart attack that day and might have been in a confused state. A toxicology report found traces of the painkiller tramadol in his body.

The coroner found the three deceased all died in a road accident.

Mrs Holmes gave a statement about her husband whom she called a “wonderful family man”.

He enjoyed doing manual work and was in good health, she said.

Earlier, Mr Minto said he and Mr Holmes had been working on a new bathroom and Mr Holmes had spent the morning working on its roof on a sunny day.

The deceased had believed that his vomiting was caused by sunstroke.

Mrs Thornes’ daughter Joanna said in her statement: “Our family has a huge gaping hole. I don’t think we will ever come to terms with it. We miss her every single day.”

Mrs Hankey’s family said she was a “caring, warm” woman who was fond of wildlife, gardening, travelling and socialising with friends and family.

David Perks, 80, the Qashqai’s driver, and his wife Gillian, 78, who was in the front passenger seat, both spent many weeks in hospital as a result of their injuries.