Death crash driver ‘had no chance to stop’

Sarah Duggan, 16, from Fleetwood, who was involved in a collision.
Sarah Duggan, 16, from Fleetwood, who was involved in a collision.

A teenage girl from Fleetwood died from injuries sustained after she ran into a busy road and was struck by a car, an inquest heard.

Sarah Duggan, 16, of Brook Street, was with a group of other children who emerged from Fleetwood Cricket Club and bolted across busy Fleetwood Road at Broadwater, just after 5pm on Monday November 4 last year.

The inquest, at the former Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court, heard how the other youngsters, who were younger than Sarah, managed to get across to the other side.

But Sarah, who was behind her friends, ran straight into the path of a gold Renault Scenic, which was travelling towards Fleetwood Nautical Campus.

Witnesses described how the children ran directly behind a slow-moving bus, and this totally obscured them from view of the driver of the Scenic, who had no chance to stop in time.

The driver, who The Gazette has chosen not to name, was on her way to pick up a relative.

After the accident, paramedics arrived within 20 minutes and Sarah was rushed to Royal Preston Hotel but died on Saturday November 9 from multiple-organ failure resulting from a severe brain injury.

Simon Jones, Coroner for Preston and West Lancashire recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Having heard accounts from three witnesses, and that of the investigating officer, he said he was satisfied the driver of the car was blameless and had no chance to avoid the accident.

He said: “Sarah Duggan died from injuries sustained from the road accident, from which she later died.

“The driver had no chance to avoid the accident.”

PC Bob Birch told the hearing that inquiries established the Scenic was in good condition, had been positioned on the correct part of the road and was travelling between 25 mph and 30mph in a 30mph zone.

PC Birch also examined video evidence from the bus itself, which showed that the driver was in no position to see the children as they ran from behind the bus.

He described Fleetwood Road, which is known as an accident blackspot, as a busy road with multiple junctions.

At the time of the accident it was dark, but visibility was good and the weather dry, although the road was still damp from an earlier downpour.

One witness, Jamie Hogg, who was directly behind the bus, told the hearing that he saw the children, from the corner of his eye, run out of the cricket club as he was travelling at around 15 mph.

Asked by Mr Jones if the children stopped at the kerb, he replied: “No, they ran across the road.”

Mr Hogg said he braked and sounded his horn as the three leading children, followed by Sarah, ran across.

He saw Sarah hit by the Scenic, and ran across to help.

Another witness, qualified nurse Kelly Watson, was driving behind Mr Hogg and also stopped to try to help while paramedics arrived.

A third witness, pedestrian Heidi Leadbetter, said she saw Sarah push a younger boy out of the car’s way and then take the full impact herself.

The driver, who was supported in the dock by her husband, was visibly upset as Mr Jones read her statement.

In her statement, she explained how she had no chance to stop as the children suddenly appeared from behind the bus.

She described the sound of “two bangs” as the car made contact.

In the statement, she explained how she had been left traumatised by the accident.

After summing up, Mr Jones praised the family of Sarah Duggan, telling them they had carried themselves with great dignity throughout the ordeal of the inquest.