THE wreckage of a crashed car may have lain in a ditch alongside the A64 near York for as long as seven hours before it was spotted and emergency services called.

Police say they now believe that the crash, in which Marzena Dajlanaj, 30, of Heslington Road, York, was killed, happened sometime between 12.45am and 1.15am on Monday morning.

The emergency services were not alerted until a driver spotted the vehicle in the ditch just before 8am as daylight was breaking.

Police initially believed that the accident had happened only shortly beforehand. North Yorkshire Police said its fresh assessment of the time of the incident, which comes after a series of floral tributes were laid at the scene of the tragedy, followed extensive inquiries.

Traffic Sergeant Paul Cording said: “We now believe that this collision occurred in the early hours of Monday morning and I am appealing to anyone who was travelling along the A64 between 12.45am and 1.15am to come forward as soon as possible.

“There may not have been many vehicles around at that time, but if you were travelling to or from York on the morning in question, please get in touch as you may have information vital to our inquiries.”

The black Toyota Celica came off the westbound carriageway, near Bilbrough Top, and overturned in a ditch.

The accident led to the closure of that carriageway for almost six hours, causing delays and diversions for thousands of motorists.

Anyone who can provide information which could assist police with their investigation is urged to phone North Yorkshire Police on 101 – select option 2 – and ask for Paul Cording or Gemma Wood.

Quote reference number NYP-17122012-0060 when passing information about the incident.