Parents Of Student Killed Crossing Road Welcome Safety Campaigns

Inquest Finds Records Verdict Of Accidental Death


The family of a student who was killed as she crossed the road on her way to university have welcomed on-going campaigns for a safe crossing to be installed.

Don and Sumedha Payagala are speaking out after a Coroner at North East Kent Coroner’s Court today (20 June) recorded a verdict of accidental death following a three-day inquest into 20-year-old Bihari Payagala’s death on 23 February 2012.

Bihari was a student at the University of Kent where she was studying sociology and was crossing the road on St Stephen’s Hill in Canterbury on her way to class when she was hit by a Ford Fiesta being driven by pensioner Tony Kennett. She died at the scene approximately 45 minutes later after suffering a catastrophic brain injury.

Coroner Rebecca Cobb heard there are no pedestrian crossings or traffic lights on the road, which is very busy with students, and the pavement runs out on one side shortly after where Bihari was killed.

A petition calling for safety improvements was handed to the Joint Transportation Board in 2006 due to concerns from students about the safety of the road, but no action was taken by Kent County Council.

Expert lawyer Nancy Collins from Irwin Mitchell is representing the family.

Mr Payagala, from Hounslow, added: “Bihari was a very kind hearted, fun-loving young lady and was like any other young student of her age, in the midst of experiencing university life at Kent.

"She was an extremely charitable person who had aspired to spend her life working for good causes across the world, which tied in with her strong Buddhist roots. We continue to struggle to come to terms with her sudden death, which has left a huge gap in all of our lives.

“The inquest has been incredibly hard for us as we have listened to what Bihari went through in her final moments.

“We understand that others will continue to campaign for a safe crossing to be installed and we would welcome this.


Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to road traffic claims