A fatal accident inquiry into the death of a cyclist on a Caithness road will today move from a courtroom to a small church hall to allow the 96-year-old driver of the car to give evidence.
The unusual step to move the FAI from Wick Sheriff Court to Lybster is being taken to allow evidence to be heard from Alice Ross, a retired shopkeeper from the village.
Mrs Ross was driving the car which struck and killed Elaine Dunne on the A99 Wick-John O’Groats road at Auckengill in 2011.
Mrs Dunne and her husband Christopher, of Glenfield, Leicester, were standing at the side of the road when they were struck by Mrs Ross’s vehicle.
Mrs Dunne, 30, was killed and her husband seriously injured.
The couple were on a cycling holiday in Orkney to mark their first wedding anniversary and were heading home at the time at the time of the fatal collision.
Today, solicitors will remove their gowns and Sheriff Andrew Berry his wig to try as much as possible to put Mrs Ross at ease for her evidence.
Mrs Ross was said to have swerved to avoid a black cat which crossing her path, although a police crash investigator found no marks on the road to suggest this.
She was known to have had brief blackouts in the past, the latest which occurred a month before the accident.
The inquiry yesterday heard evidence from Mrs Ross’s GP, Dr Bobby Echavarren, who practices in Lybster.
He referred to a report by a consultant Dr Malcolm Metcalfe, which stated that the probable cause of the collision was Mrs Ross veering across the road because of a heart condition.
Dr Metcalfe concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, the unusual path taken by Mrs Ross’s Nissan Micra, was “strongly in keeping with a cardiac cause which led to her loss of control of her car”, the inquiry heard.
Fiscal Alistair MacDonald described this as a faint with perhaps a cardiac or stroke as the trigger.
Dr Echavarren added that had he known about the blackout a month before the accident, he would have examined Mrs Ross and, if necessary, referred her to a specialist.
Dr Metcalfe will also give evidence at the inquiry today.