AN elderly driver was unaware that her car had collided with two holidaymakers, killing one of them, an inquiry into the tragedy has heard.

Alice Ross believed at first that no-one else had been involved in the accident at Auckengill, six miles south of John O' Groats.

News of the tragedy on September 21, 2011, was broken to her by police two hours later.

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The fatal accident inquiry heard that Ms Ross told her cousin Alexandrina Steven, that she had swerved to avoid a black cat on the A99.

The woman who died, Elaine Dunne, from Glenfield, Leicester, had been on a cycling holiday with her husband, Christopher, 30, in Orkney and the pair were on their way home. They had stopped by the roadside to change their clothes, which had got wet in a shower, when the accident occurred.

Mrs Dunne was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband, who sustained multiple injuries, was at Wick Sheriff Court yesterday as Ms Steven gave evidence.

Ms Steven, 71, said Ms Ross had called her on her mobile phone following the accident, in which her car had ended up in a field.

She told the inquiry: "She told me there had been an accident but she was okay. I drove straight to the scene and got into the passenger seat of Alice's car. She was still in the driving seat and told me there was no-one else involved. She was alright and unhurt. Alice said she had swerved to avoid a black cat."

Ms Steven said Ms Ross, now 96, seemed "in perfect health" prior to the accident. The inquiry continues.