Phil Spencer’s parents died after car plunged off bridge into river, inquest told

Phil Spencer with his mother Anne Spencer
Anne Spencer died of aspiration pneumonia, hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury and near drowning - Daily Mail
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The mother of TV presenter Phil Spencer died from a lung infection and brain injury after her car overturned in a river, a coroner has said.

Anne Spencer, 82, and her husband Richard were submerged in water in her Toyota car for up to 20 minutes, an inquest in Maidstone heard.

The couple were on their way to lunch on Aug 18 when the car plunged into the river near their home in the village of Littlebourne in Kent.

Mr Spencer, 89, died from a lung injury called aspiration pneumonitis, a previous hearing was told.

On Monday, Sarah Clarke, the coroner, said at around 12.20pm, Mrs Spencer was driving the car with Mr Spencer in the front passenger seat and their live-in carer in the back.

They were driving from their house down a private lane when they reached a bridge over the Nailbourne river and the car tipped over the edge.

TV presenter Phil Spencer's parents Richard 'David' Spencer and his wife Anne
Both Anne and Richard Spencer died in the accident on Aug 18

Ms Clarke said: “It struck the bottom of the river and overturned.”

The trio were submerged in around three feet of water but their carer managed to escape through a car window.

Paramedics arrived at the scene at around 12.57pm and took Mr and Mrs Spencer to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

Mrs Spencer was pronounced dead at 9.55pm.

Ms Clarke confirmed Mrs Spencer’s medical cause of death as aspiration pneumonia, hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury and near drowning.

Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, while aspiration pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by inhaling food or liquid.

‘What God had planned’

Phil Spencer paid tribute to his “amazing parents” following their deaths and said the incident was “what God had planned for them” so they could stay together after six decades of marriage and four children.

The Location, Location, Location presenter said at the time: “As a family, we are all trying to hold on to the fact Mum and Dad went together and that neither will ever have to mourn the loss of the other one. Which is a blessing in itself.

“Although they were both on extremely good form in the days before (hence the sudden idea to go out to lunch), Mum’s Parkinson’s and Dad’s dementia had been worsening and the long-term future was set to be a challenge.

“So much so that Mum said to me only a week ago that she had resigned to thinking ‘now it looks like we will probably go together’. And so they did.”

The full inquest into Mr and Mrs Spencer’s deaths will be held on Dec 19.

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