Family devastated after ‘amazing’ daughter dies in car crash in Yorkshire forest

A university graduate was killed in a car crash near Harrogate after the driver lost control on a wet road because he was travelling “too fast”, an inquest was told.

Juliana Keshishian was in a blue Vauxhall Corsa with two friends from the University of Leeds when it aquaplaned off the B6451 in Stainburn Forest during a spell of heavy rain, went airborne and hit a tree in June 2020.

At an inquest in Northallerton, the 22-year-old’s family described her as an “amazing, loving, joyful, caring, kind, gentle and humble” person who would have made “a substantial contribution to society”.

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Jack Garnett, who was driving, and his front-seat passenger were rescued from the vehicle by other motorists, but Ms Keshishian was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering a number of severe injuries.

Juliana KeshishianJuliana Keshishian
Juliana Keshishian

The 27-year-old said they were driving back at around 50mph “in horrible weather” after enjoying a day out at Ilkley, Pateley Bridge and Brimham Rocks, but he lost control of the car when he drove round a bend and hit a patch of standing water.

“I remember it all, it’s stayed with me since – the aquaplaning, steering through the road and the flip – I was conscious the entire time,” he said. “I remember the silence when the car took off.”

Mr Garnett told the inquest there was “nothing I could have done” to prevent the car from aquaplaning and “I don’t believe I was going too fast for the road at the time”.

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North Yorkshire Police said Mr Garnett was not speeding on the winding, rural road, which has a 60mph speed limit, but he was “driving too fast for the road conditions and layout” and he “lost control as a result”.

The force also said he hit the brakes when the car began to aquaplane, instead of easing off the accelerator and turning the steering wheel in the direction of the skid.

When asked about the findings of the investigation, Mr Garnett said: “I can see how if I had gone slower it could have been avoided. But I wouldn’t have known what speed to have been driving at for it to have been possible for that not to happen.”

In a statement, Ms Keshishian’s family said they were devastated by her death.

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They said she was a committed student, who had recently obtained a first-class degree in Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Leeds.

Ms Keshishian, who grew up in Watford, had also volunteered in countries around the world and during one trip she helped Afghan refugees at a camp in Greece.

“She was naturally a caring person, always nurturing towards others, regardless of their cultural background, race or age,” her family said.

“We will forever miss her adorable company, that bubbly personality, cheeky demeanour, lust for life, her joy and so many other qualities.

“Her tragic passing has shattered our hope for the future and sadly invaded almost every living aspect of our lives.”

The coroner recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision.