A woman was hit by a lorry while walking home on an ‘unlit’ road after a night out, an inquest has heard.
Ann-Marie Chesters – known as Annie – from Sandbach died after being struck by a lorry on January 14, 2020.
Miss Chesters was walking home following a night out in Crewe – a distance of some six miles – after missing her bus when the incident took place at around 1.40am.
The 37-year-old was hit by a large goods vehicle (LGV), driven by Robert Wild, that was travelling along the Haslington Bypass.
Tragically, Miss Chesters died from her injuries at Royal Stoke University Hospital on January 15, 2020.
At an inquest held in Warrington on Thursday (May 27), before Assistant Coroner, Mr Peter Sigee, the court heard how Miss Chesters had spent the evening in Crewe enjoying drinks with her partner, Christopher Cooper, her brother Matthew, and her friend, Amanda Kelly.
Written evidence was read out from Mr Cooper, who is now deceased, that said that on January 13, he and Miss Chesters had spent the day in Crewe.
After visiting a friend and going to two pubs, the couple went to The Cheshire Inn on Nantwich Road at around 7pm, where they met up with Matthew and Amanda.
At around 8.30pm, Mr Cooper left the venue because he wasn’t feeling well. He added that Miss Chesters had drunk about six pints during the time he had been with her.
Upon returning home, Mr Cooper called his partner, who told him that she would call him when she was getting the bus back and that Amanda and Matthew had both agreed to come back with her.
Miss Chesters called her partner at 11.30pm to say she was at the bus stop and that she was by herself, having left her friends behind.
Five minutes later, Miss Chesters called her partner to inform him that she had missed the bus.
At 12.20am, after struggling to find a taxi, Miss Chesters called her partner and informed him that she was going to walk home.
Mr Cooper told her to go to the train station and get a taxi from the taxi rank, although he was aware that Miss Chesters had walked back from Crewe once before.
He told her not to walk as it would take two or three hours, but said that she would not listen.
He also suggested she go to a friend’s house and come back home in the morning, knowing she would be safer, but she didn’t.
Tragically, Miss Chesters was later hit by a Class 1 LGV driven by Robert Wild on the walk home.
Giving evidence to the court, Mr Wild said that he had been a LGV driver since 1999 and worked for a company based on Duchy Road in Crewe.
Recalling the evening in question, Mr Wild said he had no health concerns and that he was familiar with the vehicle.
Mr Wild said he left the Duchy Road yard at around 1.30am on his way to Warrington, and that vehicle safety checks had all been completed with no issues.
The vehicle was travelling along the A534 Haslington Bypass, a road which at the time was described as ‘very dark’ with no pavement or street lighting, when the incident happened.
Mr Wild said: “There was a storm, so it was really dark. I pulled onto the bypass, checked my mirrors and stuff, there was some cars and traffic that passed me.
“I just glanced in the mirror, just as I was glancing back, there was nothing in front of me, I glanced in the mirror to check traffic, and just as I was coming back I heard this almighty bang.”
Mr Wild said he stopped the LGV and went around the front of the vehicle where he could see the damage.
Another driver pulled over to assist Mr Wild, which is when Miss Chesters was spotted at the side of the road.
A short while later, emergency services attended the scene and took Miss Chesters to hospital.
Police Constable Kevin Sweeney, an officer from the Forensic Collision Investigation Unit, carried out an investigation following the incident.
He described the road as ‘straight’ and ‘unlit’ and that the LGV was travelling at a speed of between 49 and 50mph, which is within the 50mph speed limit on the road.
Constable Sweeney added that the dashcam fitting system showed that the dip beam headlights on the vehicle illuminated Ann-Marie for about 1.1 seconds prior to collision occurring.
He added: “Mr Wild responded promptly once she became illuminated by the dip beam headlights.
“Mr Wild’s view ahead could have been approved by utilising the main beam headlamps of the LGV vehicle, however, it cannot be determined whether this would have improved his view sufficiently to identify the presence of Ann-Marie, the position of Ann-Marie or the intentions of Ann-Marie in order to avoid the collision.”
Whilst given evidence, Mr Wild clarified that he did not use the vehicle’s main beam headlamps on that stretch of road due to approaching traffic in the distance.
A written statement was read out on behalf of Miss Chester’s mum, Reenie Chesters, in which she described the 37-year-old as a ‘fantastic daughter, sister and auntie’ and ‘such a lovable person’.
She added: “She was always there for her family, she was a very kind-hearted person with a great sense of humour. She really knew how to cheer people up and make people laugh.”
Following the evidence, Mr Sigee, summarising the facts, said: “I accept the evidence given to me by Dr Butterworth. Ann-Marie’s death was caused by 1a, a severe head injury.
“I find that Miss Ann-Marie Chesters died at the Royal Stoke University Hospital on the 15th January 2020 aged 37-years from injuries sustained in a road traffic collision.
“The brief circumstances of the road traffic collision are that at about 1.45am on the 14th January 2020, Miss Chesters was walking along the A534 Haslington Bypass when she was struck by a lorry which was travelling along this road.
“There was no pavement or street lighting at this location, and it was very dark at this time.
“The lorry was driving correctly positioned within the Sandbach-bound carriageway, driving with dips headlights illuminated due to on-coming traffic travelling in the opposite direction.
“Once Miss Chesters was illuminated by the lorry’s headlights, the driver reacted promptly, but there was insufficient time for him to avoid colliding with Miss Chesters.”
Delivering a short oral conclusion, Mr Sigee said: “On the basis of the evidence I have heard given the findings and facts I have made, I am satisfied that the appropriate conclusion for me to reach is that Ann-Marie died from injuries suffered in a road traffic collision.”
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