Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 15:05 UK

Fatal digger crash inquiry opens

Christina Fraser
Christina Fraser was killed in the accident

A driver has told a fatal accident inquiry how she swerved to try to avoid a runaway digger that hit her car, killing her friend.

Julia Mackay, 49, said she had not driven since the accident on the A9 in Ross-shire in July 2006.

Christina Fraser, 24, died after a 30-tonne digger rolled off a transporter.

Ms Fraser's mother Linda also told the first day of the inquiry at Tain Sheriff Court how she visited her daughter's grave every day.

Haulage firm Munro & Sons (Highland) Ltd admitted a breach of health and safety law and was fined last April.

In January, appeal judges increased the firm's fine of £3,750 to £30,000 to "bring home" the consequences of the accident at the Tomich junction between Tain and Alness.

She was a young girl with so much to live for
Linda Fraser
Christina Fraser mother

Ms Mackay, of Embo, had been giving the 24-year-old beautician a lift home from work.

She told the FAI: "I saw it [the digger] on the junction coming from my left. Christina screamed. I swerved to the right and it hit me and we got pushed to the side.

"I was trapped in the car. My head had gone through the sunroof. I could see Christina's legs. I called out but got no response."

Ms Mackay was cut free by firefighters and taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Depute fiscal Alasdair MacDonald asked: "You were later told Christina was dead at the accident scene?"

She replied: "I just knew she had died."

Ms Mackay said since the accident she had been too scared to get back behind the wheel of a car.

'Good singer'

Mrs Fraser, 57, was close to tears as she recalled the events of 5 July.

She said: "Christina was a happy girl and a very talented girl. She was a very good singer. My husband plays the guitar and she always loved singing with him.

"She was a family girl who loved her father and brothers. She loved always being with the family.

"She was a young girl with so much to live for. She had loads of friends and loved to be at the centre of everything."

The inquiry before Sheriff David Sutherland continues.

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