Pensioner Died On Way To Granddaughter’s 21st Birthday Party
A daughter has urged motorists to slow down after an inquest heard her father died when he was knocked down by a police vehicle travelling above the speed limit without its blue lights on while answering a routine call.
Leslie Bingham suffered multiple fatal injuries when he was involved in a collision with a South Yorkshire Police SUV while walking to his granddaughter, Katie’s 21st birthday party at the Owlerton Greyhound Stadium in Hillsborough, Sheffield.
Leslie had left his home in Malin Bridge and was walking to the Stadium when he was involved in the collision. The crash happened on Penistone Road at the junction with Owlerton Green, at about 6.20pm on Saturday, 7 January, 2017.
Following the incident the 73-year-old’s family instructed expert road accident lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help investigate the circumstances of the crash.
Investigators concluded that the marked police vehicle, which was on a routine call and did not have its sirens or blue lights on, had been travelling at 41mph in a 30mph zone seconds before the crash happened, an inquest was told.
The inquest at Sheffield’s Medico-Legal Centre was told witnesses saw Leslie crossing Penistone Road when he appeared to quicken up walking. Moments later the vehicle collided with him. Although it was dark, visibility was good and the area was well lit.
Sadly Leslie was pronounced dead at the scene.
The incident was referred to police watchdog the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), now the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). Its investigations found that the driver was travelling at a top speed of 41mph which had reduced to 36mph on the point of impact, the hearing was told.
If the driver had been travelling at 30mph, the collision could have been avoided, the inquest was told.
During the hearing concerns were also raised about the layout of the pedestrian crossing. The positioning of the ‘green man’ control to the left of the crossing on Penistone Road actually relates to the crossing on Owlerton Green.
Christopher Dorries, Senior Coroner of South Yorkshire, intends to make a report to Sheffield City Council requesting it considers the positioning of the controls.
Following the hearing, Leslie’s daughter Angela, issued a plea to all motorists to slow down and think of the consequences of speeding.
She said: “Of course there are times when police have to travel above the speed limit but those times are when responding to genuine emergencies, not a routine appointment.
“What should have been a tremendous family celebration turned to heartbreak as we were informed that dad had been involved in an accident on his way to the party.
“That night changed our family forever. Dad was such a loving and caring person who lived for his family. Life for us will never be the same again without him.
“Our only hope now is that dad’s death acts as a warning to other drivers, whether police officers or not, about the consequences of travelling above the speed limit.
“The IOPC has found that there is sufficient evidence that the driver has a case to answer for gross misconduct. The fact that the driver has not yet faced any further action to our knowledge is disappointing.
“In light of the evidence heard in the inquest, we urge South Yorkshire Police to now consider the findings of the investigations and take the appropriate action to help promote the need for road safety at all times so other families don’t have to suffer the heartbreak we have since dad’s death.
“We are pleased the Coroner is to ask the Council to reconsider the positioning of the pedestrian controls at the crossing.”
The inquest jury returned a narrative verdict. The jury found that the speed that the police vehicle was travelling and the clothes Leslie was wearing when it was dark would have affected the driver’s visibility.
The jury also concluded that the layout of the junction where the collision happened could be ‘very confusing’ for pedestrians.
Expert OpinionWe appreciate that police officers often have to drive above the speed limit when responding to emergencies, however, it is our view that on this occasion the driver should not have being doing so.
“Through our work we often see the tragic consequences of what can happen when motorists do not obey the speed limit and unfortunately Leslie’s death is yet another example of this.
“Leslie’s loved ones have had to endure an exceptionally difficult 18 months after their lives were turned upside-down. The events of what happened that evening and the loss of a much-loved dad and granddad is still raw for his family." Louise Morgan - Associate Solicitor
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