Family of woman, 22, who died in 98mph tunnel crash say “we haven’t seen justice”


The devastated mum of a ‘beautiful and funny’ young woman killed when her ex-partner drove into a taxi at 98mph says her family has not seen justice.

Paige Rice, 22, was the passenger in an Audi S3 when it crashed, head on, into the Mercedes taxi inside the Queensway Tunnel under the River Mersey in Liverpool just after midnight on Sunday, October 17, last year.

The Audi was being driven by her ex-partner Callum Miller, a 27-year-old worker from Stockport, who also died from his injuries.

An inquest into their deaths, held at Gerard Majella Courthouse in Liverpool today, heard how the driver of the taxi suffered ‘life-changing’ injuries to his leg and hip in the collision and has undergone extensive surgery since.

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The court heard Merseyside Police initially launched a criminal investigation into a potential offense of causing death by dangerous driving, but the probe was dropped when it became clear Mr Miller would not survive.

Speaking after the hearing, Paige’s mum Clare Rice described the moment she was awoken in the early hours of the morning by a police officer, knocking on the front door of the family home in Marston Green, Solihull.

“I think I woke up the whole neighborhood. It was so hard to take in, especially as we had to identify her that day as well,” she told the Liverpool Echo.

Describing Paige’s life and dreams, she said: “Paige used to say that this year was going to be her last year of partying.

“She was going to go to Mexico, that was going to be her big expensive holiday and then the following year she wanted to start saving and buy a house.

Paige Rice was a passenger in the car

“She was very business minded. She loved making money and she was very good at it. She wasn’t only working as a nail technician at the time, she was selling cars, she was very good at moving cars.

“She had a load of dreams. She also wanted to do a YouTube channel. She was beautiful and she was real, 100 per cent real.

“She was a bit of a diva, and you could see from her social media how many people loved her, how loved she was.

“We’re all still really shocked I think, it’s really hard to take in.”

Ms Rice said that Paige had supported her through periods of illness and looked after her younger brother, 18-year-old Tyler.

She said: “Tyler is really struggling, he couldn’t come today as he was too emotional.”

Ms Rice was keen to stress Paige and Callum were not in a relationship at the time of their deaths, having split up a few months previously. She said Paige was planning a night out in Liverpool for her birthday and was in the city to make arrangements.

The Queensway Tunnel was closed following the fatal crash

Ms Rice expressed her anger at the way Callum had driven, but said the lack of any criminal trial meant there would never be accountability.

She said: “I didn’t know before today that the inquest can’t attribute blame so the fact that there is no criminal case means there hasn’t really been any justice.”

Paige’s best friend Sophia Church, 23, also made the trip from Birmingham to attend the inquest and support Paige’s family.

She said: “We met in secondary school (Grace Academy) in year seven, as soon as we met we hit it off. I would just laugh 24/7 with her, we laughed till we cried.”

Another close friend, 22-year-old Charlie Millard, met Paige while she was studying a make-up and beauty course at University College Birmingham.

Paige’s family say they haven’t seen justice

She said: “There was never a dull moment, she always had everyone in stitches. She was always the star of the show.”

Ms Rice added: “She wasn’t an influencer. She never got paid for anything on social media. She just had a normal job and lived at home with me.

“But she was stunning, she was pretty and people were interested in her life, they were envious of her life. When she died I got messages from people I had never met, saying Paige was so funny, she would always make them laugh.

“They said she was so pretty and they always wanted to see what she was wearing.”

During the court hearing, Coroner André Rebello said that at around 12.25am on October 17, the Audi had been traveling north east on Victoria Street, Liverpool City Centre, in the general direction of the Queensway Tunnel.

At the entrance of the tunnel it struck the rear of a gray colored Passat car and then collided with a black taxi, causing minor damage to the other vehicles.

Paige pictured with mum Clare and brother Tyler

The court heard Mr Miller then drove into the tunnel, collided with bollards, and continued at high speed.

The Audi tried to negotiate a long left-hand bend, before losing control, drifting into the opposing lane and collided head on with the blue Mercedes taxi.

Sergeant Michael Clarey, of Merseyside Police’s Roads Policing Unit, told the court forensic analysis of CCTV footage revealed the taxi was traveling at around 24mph, while Mr Miller was driving at around 98.4mph.

The speed limit for the tunnel is 30mph, the court heard.

The court heard how Miss Rice was rushed to the Royal Liverpool Hospital but died a few hours later, while Mr Miller was taken to Aintree Hospital where he died the following day.

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In Miss Rice’s case, the medical cause of death was given as poly-trauma, while for Mr Miller it was recorded as traumatic brain injury.

Mr Rebello explained he could not legally attribute blame to any party in the collision and was required, under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, to reach a conclusion of death by road traffic collision in each case.

He told the families of each victim: “Death is debilitating, it covers a range of emotions, anger, bitterness, revenge, love…the most important thing is not to let these deaths steal from you the person you continue to love.

“The only way you can do that is by storing up happy memories.

“Life is never measured in time, the quality of life is measured in love.”




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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