A woman has spoken of her shock after her husband collapsed and died at the wheel of his car as they returned home from a walk on the beach.
Catherine Ellis escaped largely unscathed after the red Fiesta suddenly veered off the A836 on the outskirts of Dunnet at lunchtime on Tuesday.
Her 73-year-old husband Peter, a retired college lecturer, was slumped beside her in the car, which had mounted the pavement and come to rest on the grass verge.
Paramedics found no sign of life and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
No-one else was involved in the accident which occurred on the sweeping bend on the western approach to the village.
Mrs Ellis, 72, of Berechan, Dunnet yesterday said her husband for 41 years had given no previous sign of anything amiss.
She said: “We had gone for a walk along Dunnet beach and were driving home when it happened.
“All of a sudden, the car left the road and went on to the pavement and then on to the grass where it stopped with a jolt.
“He must have taken a turn. When I spoke to him, there as no response – he was slumped over the wheel.”
Mrs Ellis said her husband had made a full recovery from an operation in 2015 to remove a tumour in a kidney.
“He was fine and had not been complaining about feeling unwell,” she said.
“It’s been a terrible shock but as a friend said to me that in some ways it was the best way for him to go as he did not suffer.”
Mrs Ellis was uninjured apart from slight soreness to her chest.
Her husband, a native of Staffordshire, moved to Caithness in 1971 after graduating in physics.
He worked for over 30 years as a lecturer at North Highland College’s Thurso campus.
He was a keen badminton player in his youth before developing interests in photography, gardening and astronomy as well as having been a lifelong Stoke City fan.
Recently retired college principal Donald MacBeath said Mr Ellis had been a respected, long-serving member of staff.
“I’m very sorry to hear what happened,” he said.
“He was a course leader and was very much in the vanguard of delivering the City and Guild and supervisor radiation safety practice qualifications. He was the only one at the college to have that expertise.
“He was a very able physicist as well as well as having a very good grounding in general science.”
Arrangements for the funeral were yesterday still to be finalised.