A Devon pensioner tragically died after walking into the blind spot of a HGV lorry which had been turning around after struggling to find a suitable parking space due to illegally parked cars.
Sylvia Giddy, was airlifted to Derriford Hospital following the incident in Fore Street, Bovey Tracey, on December 10, 2019, but was declared deceased on her arrival.
An inquest at Exeter’s County Hall today heard that on the day of the 70-year-old’s death, the weather had been wet and overcast. She had been wearing a grey coat with her hood up, and was using a walking stick.
A police investigation confirmed evidence from a witness and CCTV showed that Mrs Giddy, a widowed retired kitchen porter who lived in the town, had been walking slowly across the road when she was struck by the HGV.
The multi-drop driver of the HGV told in a statement how he had been a professional lorry driver for 24 years, had never previously had any accidents and was fit and healthy.
He described how he worked for Langdons transport and was the sole driver of the vehicle which the day before the collision had been taken to an Exeter dealership to have a fault rectified with its steering.
On the day of the incident he described the weather as having been ‘terrible’ with heavy rain and winds from a storm which had been passing through.
He told how he had not been under any time pressure when he arrived in Fore Street at around 2.10pm to make a delivery at the Spar which he had not been to before.
He recalled how a lot of cars were illegally parked which made it difficult for him to have the ideal space to turn his vehicle, park and make the drop.
He recalled that when he began reversing by the triangle shaped junction of Fore Street and Abbey Road, he was moving ‘less than walking pace’ and all the time he was looking in his mirrors and around the vehicle, but that the weather made it difficult to see clearly.
Deciding he would be better off turning around and coming back down the road, he said he was unaware he had struck anyone until he came back down the road and saw a man running towards him shouting, ‘you have run someone over’.
He recalled the first sighting of the woman had been when he then saw her laying on the ground surrounded by people.
A witness, who had been parked in a car in Abbey Road and saw the collision, told in a statement how he had seen Mrs Giddy walking diagonally across the road in the direction of a Tesco store, and had walked towards the front end of the HGV when it was stationary.
The witness said: “She was approximately one metre away when it started to move forward. I thought, why has she not stopped? She was still looking forward so she must have seen it.”
He recalled how the front near side of the HGV brushed against her right shoulder causing her to topple.
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Forensic collision investigator PC Malcolm Passmore confirmed in a statement that no mechanical defects were found that could have caused or contributed to the collision. It was also noted the HGV did not have any reversing detector alarms, and there was no requirement for one to be fitted.
A reconstruction of the scene was carried out to conduct a visibility test to show whether the driver would have been able to see the pedestrian or not from the vehicle’s seven mirrors, and at which point she would have been in blind spots.
PC Passmore concluded: “It is unlikely he could have seen her to take avoiding action.”
Mrs Giddy’s health records told how she had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive lung disease, osteoporosis and had cataracts in both of her eyes.
A post mortem examination confirmed the cause of her death was abdominal, pelvic and lower limb injuries.
Recording a conclusion of road traffic collision, coroner Philip Spinney said: “The pedestrian has walked across Fore Street when she was struck by a HGV manoeuvring in the road. Despite treatment she died later the same day.”
Referring to the impact on Mrs Giddy’s family, he concluded: “To lose her in this way in a tragic accident must be very difficult for them to bear.”